Developing Mediated Market Models to Increase Consumer Engagement and Market Access for New England Farmers

Progress report for LNE22-436

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $257,846.00
Projected End Date: 08/15/2025
Grant Recipient: University of New Hampshire
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Dr. Analena Bruce
University of New Hampshire
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Project Information


Problem and Justification:

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) market models such as farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) appeal to a limited population of consumers. Growth beyond this population has been stagnant for a decade, limiting market access for small and mid-sized farms in New England reliant on these markets. For farmers, DTC markets require substantial time and labor, yet are unreliable and often inadequate, thus limiting farmers’ ability to increase production. For consumers, DTC markets are inconvenient, have higher prices, and limited choice, restricting participation to privileged consumers with higher income and capacity to overcome these barriers. To ensure their long-term viability, small and mid-sized farms in New England need new marketing strategies that reduce their labor but still deliver a fair price and expand market access.

This project will benefit the nearly 8,000 small New England farms that sell directly to consumers, specifically those that are seeking to expand their production, reduce their reliance on DTC markets, or decrease their marketing labor. The project will also have implications for the more than 2,700 small and mid-sized New England farms selling to restaurants and institutional buyers who may also be seeking additional market outlets.


Solution and Approach:

Collaborative, or mediated market models (MMMs) are a rapidly growing adaptation of DTC markets that introduce a single intermediary between producer and consumer that serves to aggregate products from multiple farms and communicates information about farm practices and values to consumers. Examples of MMMs are online farmers’ markets, multi-farm CSAs, online subscription programs, and multi-farm-aggregating farm stores. MMMs are proposed as a solution to farmers’ intensive DTC marketing labor and limited market access by creating short supply chains that deliver fair prices for farmers. By collaboratively aggregating products from multiple farms, MMMs increase convenience, choice, and flexibility for consumers, and thus potentially increase consumers’ participation in markets appropriate for small and mid-sized farms.

As New England MMMs develop, farmers and stakeholders need opportunities to learn from each other as they experiment with these new market models. Our educational workshops and Community of Practice network facilitation will bring together farmers and stakeholders engaged with or interested in experimenting with MMMs, for peer-to-peer learning. The workshops will generate actionable insights as stakeholders and farmers bring together their emerging knowledge of best practices and strategies for successful marketing through MMMs. Farmers and stakeholders will benefit from educational products generated from workshop findings and a survey of New England consumers about their experiences and preferences with purchasing food from MMMs. A core group case study will provide a deeper learning opportunity for farmers to measure the impact of this marketing strategy on their labor and income, informing decision-making and investment in these marketing models.

Performance Target:

130 farmers who participated in the workshops will increase their participation in MMMs or join an existing or newly created MMM by selling at least five percent of their products through a New England MMM.  Farmers’ participation in MMMs will result in an average of $200 net income per week and 5 hours per week of reduced marketing labor per farmer. 


UPDATE (2023): We have conducted three of our in personal workshops at winter conferences and are in the process of planning our virtual workshop sessions with feedback from our Advisory Committee.  We are also requesting feedback on our Community of Practice platform and will finalize and get started once we have supportive feedback from our committee.  We plan to begin the consumer survey later this spring.  

UPDATE (2024):

After being without a full-time postdoc that this project relies on for almost a year, and then relying on a part-time research scientist who could only work remotely for an average of ten hours per week (from the west coast), we were finally able to hire a full-time postdoc to lead the day-to-day project activities last summer.  Hannah Stokes-Ramos started remotely and part-time last summer and in person full time in September, and has greatly contributed to our ability to carry out our project activities.  We have held our second Advisory committee meeting, are holding our virtual workshops now (one last week, one this week, another one next week, and the final one in early March), and are in the final stages of planning and preparing the case study.  We have a topic list and plans for the survey and are waiting on feedback from one more advisory committee member and some planned conversations with important stakeholders and then we will develop our survey instrument based on this feedback and our topic list.  We hope to have all data collection (from workshops, case studies, and survey) complete by this summer when we will develop our educational and outreach products. 




Mediated market models (MMMs) are said to reduce logistical barriers for farmers and consumers, but this expectation needs testing. Generating data from farmers and consumers, we will assess the impact of MMM participation for New England small and mid-sized farms and consumers.

  1. Does selling products through MMMs increase income or reduce marketing labor for farmers?
  2. What challenges and opportunities do MMM-participating farmers identify as important?
  3. What does consumers’ experience with MMMs reveal about opportunities for further development and expansion?
  4. Do MMMs offer greater variety, convenience, and/or appeal to consumers who don’t participate in traditional DTC markets?
Materials and methods:

Applied research with farmers



Farmers and stakeholders will be recruited for peer learning exchange workshops that target small and mid-sized, direct marketing New England farms. Online, multilingual workshops will expand access. Workshop participants will be invited to join an ongoing Community of Practice. A 20-farmer core group from the Community of Practice will be recruited for an in-depth case study.

UPDATE '24: instead of 20 random farmers we will interview at least 20 farmers and other stakeholders from 3-4 MMMs that exemplify different types of MMMs- multi-farm CSAs, farmer-led food hub that sells direct to consumers, online farmers' market/subscription based program, and a farm store that aggregates collaboratively from multiple farms. 



Peer learning exchanges and an in-depth case study will support farmer and stakeholder learning while simultaneously generating data for applied research on the impacts, challenges, and potential of MMMs for New England farmers.


Data Collection and Analysis

Our applied research consists of a three-step, mixed-methods approach:

  • UPDATE '23: Year-one peer learning exchanges. We have conducted three peer learning exchange workshops in the following conferences: MOFGA, New England Vegetable & Fruit NEVF conference, and NOFA-Mass winter conference, and we are well into planning the virtual sessions which will be finalized and advertised soon (Advisory committee happening 2/2/23).  In the workshops so far we have gathered quantitative data about participants’ MMM engagement, perceptions of challenges and opportunities associated with MMMs, and their information and Extension needs using Mentimeter, an interactive workshop platform utilizing participants’ cell phones. Additional data was collected in Qualtrics, through a brief exit survey. We gathered qualitative data by having a graduate research assistant take extensive notes on the peer learning exchanges.
  • UPDATE 2024: We decided to do more virtual workshops than initially planned, to increase the number of farmers we could serve and facilitate more of the peer-to-peer learning sessions we had envisioned.

    Last spring we had to postpone our virtual workshop series to this winter because by the time we finished the planning process and got speakers lined up we didn't have enough time to effectively advertise before the spring planting season was underway, and we wanted the workshops to be accessible to farmers.  MORE DETAILS on workshop progress in Education section below.  

    Given the limited timeframe of the virtual workshops (we decided together to with advisory committee that zoom/virtual workshops should be kept to 1.5 hours) we used a few poll questions as part of the registration process instead of the Mentimeter platform, to save time during the workshop.  We are taking notes on the small group breakout sessions to inform our research objectives, and asking farmers to complete the evaluation survey near the end of the workshop for following up with them next year. We have had a challenging time getting a strong response rate on the survey because farmers are over-surveyed and fatigued with these, and by the time they've done almost 1.5 hour workshop they don't always do it.  We're sending a follow up email asking them to complete the survey with the recording of the workshop, which several have requested.  We only recorded the initial presentation by a farmer about their MMM, and the Q&A, not the breakout group sessions.  

  • Year-two case study. We will work closely with a small group of 20 compensated farmers to gather in-depth data on their sales, marketing labor, and experiences with MMMs in the context of their mix of markets. Because the effectiveness of different markets – and farmers’ willingness to change practices – depends so much on farmers’ particular context, this approach enables us to compile “farmer snapshots” that offer other farmers examples with real financial and labor information of how MMMs work for farms like their own. 
  • UPDATE '23: I am currently rethinking our approach slightly and considering to focus on one cooperative marketing model to gather in depth data described above as well as qualitative data on their perspectives and experiences with the model (Three River Farmers' Alliance is my plan but not confirmed).  This will make our analysis much more useful to farmers by ensuring the data is contextualized in a specific organizational model that farmers can study, rather than a set of independent farmers all engaged in different kinds of models.  Long-term the next step will be to pursue additional funding to conduct additional case studies of different cooperative marketing models to compare with the first.  See notes on this in my summary below. 
  • UPDATE 2024:

    We have completed the design and are in final stages of planning our case study component, modifying the study design from the original plan to better meet our project goals and respond to what we have learned in the process of doing this project.  Instead of focusing on a random set of individual farmers selling through different types of MMMs, we are doing a comparative case study of 3-4 types of MMMs and focusing our data collection on those models. We were able to secure additional funding to make this feasible. We will be conducting in-depth interviews with members of these models from across the supply chain modeling a supply chain ethnographic approach, to understand the experiences and perspectives of people from all positions in the model (farmers, staff/logistics/coordinators, customers, etc.) as well as doing an analysis of their financial performance to understand how risks and benefits are shared and how well the model supports farm viability and increased market access for farmers.  We are having meetings with the core team of farmers and other stakeholders leading these four models this week and next to discuss everyone's goals and ideal outcomes, to ensure that this research provides useful and relevant insights to guide their decision making and talk through our plans for informed consent and how we will protect sensitive information. We have submitted and received very manageable feedback from the UNH IRB and will secure approval soon.  We have met with David Connor about the financial analysis aspect and discussed with the farmers about this component, and most already have some financial data and analysis that will provide the information that we need. We hope to start data collection in the next two weeks. 

  • Year-three survey. We will distribute a Qualtrics evaluation survey to all peer learning exchange participants to collect data on the size and scale of farms most likely to engage with MMMs.


We will use standard descriptive statistics and qualitative thematic coding to analyze data. Integrating these methods will help identify best practices for MMM engagement.


Farmer Input

Farmers contributed to the conception of the research components for this project. Advisory committee farmers will inform the development of data collection instruments to ensure their practicality. All data collected in this portion of the research comes directly from farmers, with multiple avenues for participation.


Consumer survey research


To inform the development and expansion of MMMs, the research team will survey New England consumers to generate information on consumers’ MMM experiences. The survey will assess consumers’ awareness of MMMs, patterns of participation, and barriers and opportunities for expanding consumer participation.



To efficiently reach our study population of New England consumers, we will collect a non-probability-based sample through geographically and interest-targeted social media advertisements. To ensure sufficient representation of existing MMM participating consumers, we will supplement the broad recruitment effort by specifically targeting outreach to social media groups affiliated with such markets or with other local food efforts.



Although probability-based samples have been the gold standard of survey research, rising costs, the disappearance of telephone landlines, and declining survey response rates have disrupted this standard (e.g., Baker et al., 2013). New scholarship on maximizing the utility of non-probability-based samples is rapidly filling the gaps (e.g., Gelman & Chen, 2020) and while findings from non-probability-based samples cannot be generalized to the population like those from a probability-based sample, guidance on how best to utilize this approach is well defined. Given this guidance and our unwillingness to divert the majority of this project’s funds from farmer education to the consumer survey, we will utilize a well-managed, non-probability-based sample.


To reach and describe New England consumers, we will take a two-step online recruitment approach. First, Facebook is increasingly serving as a sampling frame for social science research (e.g., Schneider & Harknett, 2019) due to the platform’s substantial reach: in 2021, 69 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook (Gramlich, 2021). This project will leverage this reach and cost-efficiency by advertising for participants in a web-based survey across a broad swath of consumers in New England. Utilizing Facebook’s built-in advertising capacity and our in-house digital communications coordinator, we can supplement our geographic targeting of advertisements with refinements on demographics, behaviors, and interests. We will supplement this recruitment of general consumers by drawing on our network of local food advocates, food producers, and affiliates to further distribute the survey link specifically to likely existing consumers. Respondents engaging through either pathway will be invited to participate in a web-based survey (through Qualtrics) not to exceed 15 minutes. Potential respondents will consent to participation prior to commencing the survey, responses will be anonymous, and participation will be incentivized with gift cards given to randomly selected respondents.


To improve the inferential capacity of our sample, we draw on new literature providing guidance on leveraging common measures between a non-probability sample and existing probability-based sample surveys to reduce bias in the non-probability sample (e.g., Castro-Martin et al. 2021; Chen et al. 2020; Kim et al. 2020). We plan to use multiple strategies and compare estimates from each (e.g., calibrating custom weights, training a machine-learning algorithm for prediction in the probability-based reference sample) to maximize the utility of our dataset.


Data Collection and Analysis

The survey instrument will collect information on three key dimensions: 1) data on general food acquisition strategies, priorities, and preferences will support identification of MMM reach and potential reach within the sample, 2) for participants reporting no MMM experience, we will collect information on awareness and barriers to participation, and 3) for participants reporting MMM experience, we will collect information about specific types of engagement and consumers’ perceptions of any logistical advantages or disadvantages of MMMs (e.g., convenience, choice) over traditional models.


All survey data will be analyzed for basic descriptive patterns, including ranking specific food source characteristics as highest priority for New England consumers in the sample and describing associations between specific preferences or behaviors and key demographic or geographic characteristics. Analyses relevant to potential market need will be conducted among the full sample, while associational analyses will be conducted with variations on the bias-reducing approaches described above, and results compared across iterations. While these analytic strategies may be sophisticated, we recognize that the information most useful for farmers should be reported in non-technical language and directly linked to the key questions elucidated by farmers and stakeholders.

UPDATE 2024:

We had our second Advisory Committee meeting in December that was focused on our consumer survey, and have received helpful feedback to guide us in honing in on our target audience and narrowing the scope so that we can maximize the value of the survey.  Founding members of Three River Farmers Alliance are connecting us with their staff members who interface with their customers and have insights about what questions would be most helpful to ask in the survey, and have given us excellent suggestions about targeting the survey to people who have signed up to be customers but dropped off and don't 'actively purchase food through the food hub.  This target group of potential but not active customers exists for other models we're studying and will allow us to focus in on the logistical barriers and opportunities that MMMs are designed to address to answer our research question.  We have a set of draft questions/topics for the survey and will be developing and distributing the instrument this spring.  

Farmer Input

To ensure that our survey instrument reflects key areas of interest, farmers are involved throughout the process. The topic reflects areas that farmers have identified as of interest in the team’s interviews with New England farmers. Farmers informed the development of this proposal and will be compensated for providing input on the survey questions during an advisory committee meeting.


Additional Information (distribution)

Insights generated from data collected in farmer peer learning exchanges will be summarized in a brief synthesis report of best practices and a recorded webinar. These, along with case study farmer snapshots and consumer survey findings, will be available for free download on the UNH Extension website. All products will be shared widely through the email list generated from participants and through email listservs maintained by our Extension partners and the list of organizations serving New England farmers maintained by the Food Systems Lab. 

UPDATE '23: 

We received approval for the research component from the UNH IRB and were able to hire a replacement for Isaac Leslie who was going to lead the project.  Stephanie Webb joined the team in late December of 2022, and is now leading design of the virtual workshops.  We conducted three peer learning exchange workshops in the following conferences: MOFGA, New England Vegetable & Fruit NEVF conference, and NOFA-Mass winter conference, and in those sessions we facilitated the peer-to-peer learning exchange and the facilitators and/or members of the project team took detailed notes in each of the breakout sessions.  We also used Mentimeter when feasible, to collect demographic data and information about the attendees' experience with collaborative marketing.  We did distribute a post-workshop evaluation that allows us to track people after the study through a brief exit survey. 

We will likely develop our consumer survey and case study component in the summer, given the delayed start and lack of current capacity as Stephanie is only able to work part-time and we are working hard to get the virtual workshops planned and delivered. For the case study I also applied for additional funding to enhance what we can do with that component from a research standpoint, and I will share my plan for that when we get closer and I know if the funding will be available for the project or not, later this spring. 

UPDATE 2024:

We received additional funding for the postdoc to conduct a comprehensive literature review of both research literature and non-academic project reports, publications and unpublished works about MMM development, common challenges, opportunities, and needs going forward.  This literature review has already generated an insightful and informative body of knowledge we will be able to share to supplement our educational products, and has guided the design of our workshops and case study.  

Participation Summary
60 Farmers participating in research


Educational approach:


We are convening farmers and stakeholders in peer learning exchange workshops and a Community of Practice focused on developing MMMs. These formats support farmers experimenting with new marketing approaches through access to emerging knowledge, active problem solving and learning to develop and test best practices, identify common challenges, and innovate as a network of practitioners. We still anticipate at least 200 farmers and stakeholders will participate in total (based on expressed interest among New England farmers the research team interviewed and estimates from advisory committee members). Farmers and stakeholders will be recruited for the virtual workshops by emails and phone calls through almost 200 organizations that support New England farmers (from a database maintained by the UNH Food Systems Lab) and the Extension communication networks at UNH, UVM, Tufts, and across the region.



UPDATE '23: Year-one peer learning exchanges took place at winter farm conferences where many farmers already gather. We conducted workshops at the following conferences to serve our target audience:

  1. New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference
  2. Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference (cancelled)
  3. Southern New England Livestock Conference (not a good fit)
  4. NOFA-VT accepted for next year, did NOFA-Mass instead
  5. MOFGA

Based on feedback from advisory committee farmers, we will also offer two virtual, multilingual peer learning exchanges (conferences are English-only, so conference attendees are presumably conversant in English). Virtual workshops enable participation for people with time or financial constraints, childcare responsibilities, and other barriers that prohibit conference attendance. New American farmers and others whose first language is Spanish, Khmer, Hmong, Arabic, Maay Maay, or Kirundi are important members of the New England farming community, and many have expertise in marketing models that would be valuable for the peer learning exchanges. Therefore, we will (1) provide interpreters for virtual sessions using Zoom’s Language Interpretation tool which allows participants to select separate audio channels for the interpreter of their choice, (2) offer translations of all written materials including recruitment materials.

UPDATE '23:  We are finalizing plans for the virtual workshops after our meeting with Advisory Committee this week (2/2) and are considering a few options based on what we learned from initial workshops.  We are considering three virtual workshops instead of two, to make up for the in person conference that didn't happen because it was cancelled or not an option.  I tried to find a way to attach our tentative plans for these workshops but there isn't any. 

The peer learning exchange workshops will begin with an interactive, introductory session for participants to share information about their perceptions and experiences with MMMs using Mentimeter which allows participants to see their aggregated responses in real time. Workshops will feature two brief presentations by farmers and stakeholders involved with MMMs (advisory committee members and people recruited by them), followed by break-out groups facilitated by these (compensated) presenters. Participants will share experiences, ideas about best practices and organizational tools, and new strategies for expanding farmer and consumer participation. Key individuals Jesse Wright of UNH extension and  Stephanie Webb, new Research Scientist on the project will organize presenter/facilitators in advance, facilitate the overall flow of the workshops, and capture lessons learned through audio recording (if all participants consent), Mentimeter, and a worksheet that captures main points from break-out groups.


Workshop participants will have the option to join a Community of Practice by sharing their contact information in a Google Group, enabling peer networking during and beyond the project and among attendees of different workshops. We will share lessons learned from peer learning exchanges through a short synthesis of best practices. We will also share the consumer survey findings and summarize both in a webinar. The short synthesis of best practices, consumer survey findings, and webinar recording will also be available for free download on the UNH Extension website. Survey findings will provide an educational bonus for participants, but the education plan does not rely on them.


In year two, we will conduct a case study with a core group of 20 compensated farmers from the Community of Practice. The core group will work closely with Kenesha Reynolds and Isaac Leslie to track one year of information about their MMM sales, marketing and labor hours and costs, and experiences in the context of their mix of marketing channels. This learning activity provides farmers a detailed view of the impacts of their MMM engagement in their own context. We will distribute this case study in the form of “farmer snapshots” that offer concrete financial marketing and labor information tied to specific farm and market types so other farmers will have a tool to make decisions about MMM engagement based on actual examples that relate to their context.

  • UPDATE 2024: We decided to do more virtual workshops than initially planned, to increase the number of farmers we could serve and facilitate more of the peer-to-peer learning sessions we had envisioned.

    Last spring we had to postpone our virtual workshop series to this winter because by the time we finished the planning process and got speakers lined up we didn't have enough time to effectively advertise before the spring planting season was underway, and we wanted the workshops to be accessible to farmers.  We have now completed the planning process for the virtual workshop series, informed by feedback from our Advisory Committee and lined up a great set of speakers representing different types of MMMs.  We worked with our new Extension lead and created flyers, an email announcement through a program that supported graphic design and a webpage set up on the UNH Extension page that served as a landing page and registration.  We advertised the workshops widely through over one hundred organizations representing a wide range of approaches, perspectives and interest groups that serve farmers across the New England region, as well as through Extension networks, listservs and the New Hampshire Food Alliance.  Last week was our first of three virtual workshops, and over 60 people registered and nearly 30 attended. The workshop featured David Trumble of Local Harvest, a multi-farm CSA, who spoke about how this model works and how they have navigated common challenges that we identified in our in person workshop series, so that the topics were of high interest to growers.  Jesse Wright, our new Extension lead served as our host/MC, and facilitated a Q&A,  followed by breakout group sessions for our peer-to-peer learning and listening session, facilitated by members of the Food Systems lab.  Each facilitator took notes and shared a summary of what was discussed, and these discussions were very informative and dynamic and we received a positive response from the workshop.  We have another workshop scheduled for this week featuring Farmers to You, an online farmers' market/subscription program, and another one next week featuring Three River Farmers Alliance, a farmer-owned and led food hub.  

    We are also in the process of planning an additional in person workshop to serve our new American farming community in Manchester, NH with Fresh Start farms, that will include an introductory segment based on the virtual workshops happening now that are going to be translated into two other languages, based on the recommendations of our collaborator Anthony Muene (former Advisory Committee member before he transitioned to a new role) at Fresh Start farms.  We are collaborating with the Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative to jointly host and sponsor this workshop to align with their farmer circles, to ensure wide participation and enhance ongoing efforts to serve these farmers.  This workshop is planned for March 8th and will include translation for two main languages and serve at least two different groups of immigrant farmers.  The Community of Practice is being launched next week following the third workshop. 


We are concluding year-one workshops with a Qualtrics survey to collect data on farmers’ engagement with MMMs.

The case study approach will gather detailed financial, marketing and labor data from an estimated 20 farmers to provide more comprehensive estimates of the impact of MMM participation on farmers’ marketing labor and income in real-life scenarios.

In year three we will distribute a Qualtrics survey to the year one workshop participants to evaluate their total progress toward performance target.


UPDATE '23: 

Following the loss of our extension education lead, Kenesha Reynolds (who left UNH for another position in DC), we brought in two new extension educators to join our team on a part-time/as needed basis.  Jesse Wright is our main extension lead for the project, and she joined UNH last summer to support the agricultural business and marketing team and has been a great asset.  Elaina Enzien is also supporting the project- she shifted to a new role over the past year as well but is supporting our project as needed.  She has presented highlights from her recent Master's thesis work on livestock farmers' interests and concerns with collaborative aggregation and marketing, and serving as facilitator for some sessions. 

We conducted three peer learning exchange workshops in the following conferences: MOFGA, New England Vegetable & Fruit NEVF conference, and NOFA-Mass winter conference, and in those sessions we facilitated the peer-to-peer learning exchange and the facilitators and/or members of the project team took detailed notes in each of the breakout sessions.  We are now well into planning the virtual sessions which will be finalized and advertised soon.  We held our first Advisory committee meeting on Feb. 2nd, and have been doing one-on-one meetings with several members who were unable to attend.   In that meeting we shared a draft agenda and plan for our virtual workshops to get feedback on a number of questions we had, and asked for feedback on best design for the community of practice portal and how best to design that component.  We received lots of great feedback on our virtual workshop series (including translation/multilingual options and how best to deliver those) that we are now integrating and hope to complete our virtual workshops by early April at the latest. 

Based on the workshops so far, they have generated more questions and information needs than knowledge of best practices that we can share.  We are planning the virtual sessions to be a bit more focused and hope to have more in-depth breakout group discussions if possible.  Either way, I have applied for additional (internal) seed grant funding to enhance the activities funded by this grant so that Stephanie Webb (new research scientist or whoever is in that role in the long-term) can conduct some informal key informant interviews with people leading these initiatives across the region, and do a targeted lit review of the research literature and especially unpublished thesis, cases studies, grant reports, and other white papers or 'gray literature' on this topic that we can synthesize and integrate into our educational materials to bolster the educational support we can provide with this project. 

UPDATE '24: 

The targeted literature review has been generating valuable knowledge to compliment what we're learning in the workshops that we can bolster our educational materials with, along with the case study.  In addition, the breakout sessions have made it clear that there is more work to be done and I am starting to think about next steps to advance research on cooperative aggregation and marketing to meet the needs of interested farmers. I am considering applying for funding to study successful models in other places to understand how they have navigated common challenges, and how they structure the enterprise and other ongoing questions that farmers hear are grappling with.  Hopefully I will be able to secure funding to do additional research to generate information that farmers have said would be helpful to them. 


  1. Recruit participants for peer learning exchanges (engagement)

Number: 200 farmers and stakeholders will attend one of seven workshops.

Action: Through outreach using the UNH Food Systems Lab database of farmer-facing organizations, UNH and partner Extension communication channels, farmers and stakeholders will become aware of MMM peer learning exchanges, and what conferences, or virtual workshops, they can attend to participate.

Evaluation: We will collect attendance data at peer learning exchanges.

Completion: March 2023 (final winter conference).

UPDATE '23: we are just getting ready to do our recruitment for our virtual sessions, once we finalize all the details, and will follow the plan above.  

UPDATE '24: so far we have recruited over 100 farmers to the virtual series, but we don't know how many will actually attend and expect that it will be lower than the number who have registered so far (around 140 as of 2/1). 

  1. Facilitate information sharing through conference and multilingual online peer learning exchanges (learning)

Number: 200 farmers and stakeholders will attend one of seven workshops.

Action: Farmers and stakeholders will share experiences, ideas about best practices and organizational tools, and new MMM strategies.

Evaluation: For evaluation and research, facilitators will collect quantitative data using Mentimeter and Qualtrics, and qualitative data via workshop recordings and worksheets that distill main points from break-out group discussions.

Completion: March 2023.

UPDATE '23: so far we've done three in-person workshops at winter conferences, and are in the process of planning three virtual workshops.  Two of the winter conferences we had planned to attend were cancelled, so we will consider doing another in person workshop at a winter conference next winter, depending on how it goes with our virtual workshops.  It's hard to estimate, but I would guess between 70-80 farmers have participated in our in person workshops so far.  Two of the workshops we led were at small conferences and the number of attendees was low (between 5-10 with some coming and going), and one (New England Veg & Fruit) was really large- probably 50-60 attendees, but that one we had much less time and opportunity to facilitate breakout sessions because it was a pre-set farmer-to-farmer workshop of just one hour block, with many people coming in late because it was right after lunch.  It was a challenge that the one conference we had our ideal attendees- large number of people, many with experience and strong interest- we had less opportunity to design the workshop the way we did the others.  The NOFA-Mass workshop was scheduled during the exact same time block as a session on cooperatives, which likely split a small pool of interested people so we only had about five attendees at any given time as some people were coming and going. 

We are hopeful that our virtual sessions will be well attended, but that remains to be seen.  We have been facilitating advice on how to maximize participation. 

UPDATE '24: As stated above, so far well over 100 farmers and stakeholders have registered for our virtual series and with these workshops we will have reached around 140 farmers total.  We just scheduled an additional in person workshop with Fresh Start farms so with that workshop we will likely be close to our final target of 200 workshop attendees.  

  1. Establish a Community of Practice for ongoing peer communication (learning)

Number: 150 of the 200 workshop attendees will join.

Action: Farmers and stakeholders will join a Google Group for continued learning and access to study products.

Evaluation: Number of Google Group participants.

Completion: May 2023.

UPDATE '23: We have collected names/emails and distributed our survey asking for contact info and interest in participating in the community of practice, and we have received feedback on how best to facilitate and design this.  We plan to use google groups as a platform, and play a more involved role in facilitating, based on feedback.  Some farmers actually suggested we set up a google group in one of the worshop discussions for people to follow up and network, so that was great given we had already planned this! 

UPDATE '24: launching google group next week! 

  1. Distribute year-one educational products to farmers and stakeholders (learning)

Number: 600 farmers and stakeholders will access products through the Community of Practice, the UNH Extension website, and via Extension and partner communication channels.

Action: Participants will access lessons learned through a webinar (live and downloadable recording), short synthesis report of best practices, and a consumer survey results brief.

Evaluation: Website downloads and webinar attendance.

Completion: August 2023.

UPDATE '24: We will be developing these outputs in late spring and summer and distribute through the community of practice and our extension and other networks.  

  1. Recruit a core group of farmers from the Community of Practice for case study (engagement)

Number: 20 compensated farmers will participate.

Action: Sign up 20 farmers to participate in one year of in-depth data tracking.

Evaluation: Number of participants.

Completion: October 2023.

UPDATE '24: We are thrilled to have a positive response from Three River Farmers Alliance and the Local Harvest CSA to collaborate with us on the case studies.  We plan to ask Fresh Start farms to participate and they have already indicated openness to collaborating with us on research so we're optimistic they will be our 3rd case, and we hope to engage the Sweet Beet store as our 4th case if we can manage it. Our aim is to complete data collection by April '24. 

  1. Facilitate core group case study information gathering and reflection (learning)

Number: 20 farmers will participate.

Action: 20 farmers work with key individuals for one year to track in-depth data on sales, labor, and experience with their markets. In the process, farmers reflect one-on-one with key individuals about their own data for their own learning.

Evaluation: Facilitators will complete collection of quantitative data using Qualtrics and qualitative data in one-on-one conversations.

Completion: October 2024.

UPDATE'24: Our comparative case study approach will provide these insights but in a contextualized way that helps farmers and researchers understand farmers' experience in relationship to the type of aggregating and marketing model they are selling through.  It will also be less burdensome for the farmers, as we will be able to look at their financials over time but ask about labor and experience with their markets through in depth interviewing rather than them tracking on their own over time.  

  1. Distribute “farmer snapshots” of core group case study results to farmers and stakeholders (learning)

Number: 300 farmers and stakeholders will read farmer snapshots.

Action: Farmers and stakeholders will read farmer snapshots of examples of MMM benefits and challenges in particular farm contexts, distributed through the Community of Practice, UNH Extension website, and our Extension partner communication channels.

Evaluation: We will count the number of downloads from the website holding the farmer snapshots.

Completion: December 2024.

UPDATE '24: We are on target for this milestone. 

  1. Collect year-three evaluation survey results (evaluation)

Number: 100 year-one peer learning exchange farmer participants will complete a survey.

Action: Participating farmers will respond to a brief survey to quantify the type and extent of actions taken regarding MMMs.

Evaluation: The team will analyze survey results using the statistical analysis software program STATA.

Completion: January 2025.

UPDATE '24:  We might be a little shy of this milestone in the end given low response rates from farmers, but optimistic that we will be close. 

  1. Analyze quantitative and qualitative evaluation results together (evaluation)

Number: Combine 200 year-one Mentimeter and Qualtrics survey results; 100 year-three evaluation survey results, and qualitative transcriptions of discussions and worksheets from 200 workshop attendees.

Action: Analyze quantitative results using STATA and qualitative results using NVIVO and assess both the extent and depth of adoption of MMM-related practices.

Evaluation: The team will compare this mixed-methods analysis of evaluation results with our performance targets.

Completion: February 2025.

UPDATE '24:  we are currently on track to meet this milestone.  

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities:

3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

75 Farmers participated
7 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities
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.