Final report for SNE20-008-NH
To effectively serve the NH farming community effectively and efficiently agriculture service providers need to be tightly networked and informed of each-others work. A network assessment conducted during this project showed that a network of service providers already exists, but the informality of the network leaves some organizations out creating inequities and results in inefficient information sharing and assessment of need. Additionally, navigating the service provider landscape can be difficult for beginning and established farmers alike. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for a repository for information, streamlined communication channels and a vehicle for relationship building across organizations. It is therefore critical for service providers themselves to be knowledgeable about the work and services provided by colleagues outside of their own organization, to best serve their farmer-clients. Without a formal network, little progress can be made towards collective impact or addressing a common agenda. Thru facilitated conversations with service providers we learned that the greatest threats to NH agriculture are challenges that must be addressed collectively (ie: climate change, land access). To address these needs, it is imperative we break down our silos and work as a collective. This project successfully began the work of formalizing a network while identifying professional development needs of those in the network.
NH service providers came together for a Reading the Farm (RTF) event, an immersive, whole-farm, training experience. Our RTF training was a catalyst to kickstart a collaborative working group of agriculture service providers. Long term needs and knowledge gaps of agriculture service providers in New Hampshire were identified thru the RTF experience, focus group discussions, and a survey-based network assessment prior to the RTF. A network assessment at the start of the program identified where we already work together closely and where tighter relationships could form. A word-cloud of participants 'areas of expertise' visualized where we have an abundance of skill and where we (as a network serving farmers) are lacking skill and expertise. Facilitated discussion and group feedback exposed areas where we could improve (as a network) in meeting the needs of under resourced farmers while acknowledging areas (sharing among the group) where we are already succeeding. Facilitated discussion also helped to prioritize areas where NH Farmers will need the most support (climate change, land loss, farmland access, etc) and work began to address how a network approach can be taken to meet this need. This information in aggregate has informed the structure and the work of the 2021-204 SARE PD program, "Network Development and Skill Building of Agriculture Service Providers for an Inclusive and Food Secure New Hampshire".
Reading the Farm program evaluation showed participants increased their skill in holistic farm management, a technique for service providers to deliver advice based on the whole farm system and not just within the specific (niche) program they operate under. Participants responded about the long-term impact and value the program will have, especially for new career professionals in getting them networked with other agriculture service providers. So often, our metrics focus on skills gained or environmental metrics met, and often lack personal connection. Following the training one participant responded: “I felt like our training was so necessary to help me feel more inspired to do and be better.”
Looking to the future, collective action will be required to meet the challenges of modern agriculture. Addressing climate change, resiliency and farm profitability (viability) will require all of us, across teams and industries to be at the top of our game. It is clear a network approach must be taken. This was the first step in bringing these organizations and individuals together to better address needs collectively across the state.
The 1-year plan for New Hampshire will focus on organizing the “New Hampshire Farm Network” for service providers, in the spirit of the Beginning Farmer Resource Network of Maine. In this foundational year, NH SARE will take a leadership role in aggregating information from NH Service providers to create a resource website for farmers. We will assess professional development needs of our states’ agriculture service providers via the Reading the Farm training and focus groups. We will use program evaluation to monitor success.
As the state's farming community ages (65% of farm owners being 55 or older), so does the service providers working to provide support. As retirements occur, we lose the relationships and networks that were developed over individual careers. New staff across many agencies are unfamiliar with the specialties of partner agencies and specialties of individuals within the agencies. No one agency has taken leadership in gathering agency partners in networking, communication, collaboration or skill building. We are effectively siloed in our own organizations. If NH agriculture service providers are not able to effectively communicate across agencies, they will not be able to effectively or efficiently provide services to New Hampshire’s farmers. Tight networks enhance information flow and result in better services for farmers. Results from our network assessment show that 30% of NH Agriculture Service providers are not part of any multi-organization networks or collaborations.
The NH Agriculture Financiers (an ad-hoc group that meets quarterly) expressed interest and support for a stronger network and increased communication methods between agencies. The group invited the Beginner Farmer Resource Network of Maine, as well as key individuals from UNH Extension to discuss forming a similar network in New Hampshire.
Farmers have expressed a desire for a single spot to get information germane to their diverse needs, as identified by program participants in the UNH Beginning Farmer training course as well as individually to agriculture service providers across multiple agencies. Many farmers, new and veteran, do not know where to turn for the numerous programs, regulations, rules, and funding opportunities they seek information about. Housing links or direct information assists growers in connecting with the information and resources they seek.
Solution & Approach:
Strengths and weaknesses of New Hampshire’s service provider community was exemplified when COVID19 began impacting New Hampshire. Established service providers thrived, while new staff were not able to respond as quickly due to their limited professional network. Additionally there was limited leadership, structure or unified communication across agencies, resulting in redundancy across organizations. Our network assessment completed in the spring of 2021, using qualtrics survey tool and NodeXL tool in excel, helped us visualize the network using a network heat map (39 responses). The map shows that while a network already exists, the informality of it leaves some behind. Thirty percent of respondents reported they do not work with any multi-organization networks or collaborations. Without a formalized network and collective vision, we are limited in our ability to address the needs of farmers in the state.
A Reading the Farm training (and pre-tour) was organized to catalyze the formation of a service provider network. Eighteen agriculture service providers from multiple state and federal agencies, cooperative extension and non-profits participated in a 2-day Reading the Farm Training (and optional pre-tour), with 15 responding to a post-event evaluation on program impact and verification of learning. Goals of this program were to connect service providers and inform them thru an engaging and active learning experience of the resources and programs available to New Hampshire Farmers. We also identified existing knowledge and staffing gaps within the service provider landscape, while prioritizing professional development needs, with special focus on meeting under-resourced audiences. Evaluation data, participant feedback after the event and facilitated group discussion helped to inform the 2021-2024 SARE PDP project. For example, there continues to be a need in understanding the barriers under resourced farmers face within existing programs, and how to address these barriers as a collective.
While evaluation data showed increase in knowledge about whole farm systems (how recommendations in one area affect others) and understanding of whole farm planning, it was the personal impact the program had on individual participants that will have the most long term impact. One participant said: “Reading the Farm was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from it.” another, "this training helped me put my recommendations in perspective with implementing other priorities on the farm." and lastly "I am a new hire so having this network at the beginning of my career is super helpful."
A beginner farmer representative was recruited to serve as a farmer liaison to the network, and provided critical insight into the unique needs of beginner farmers, especially BIPOC and New American Farmers. A skeletal structure for a web-based platform to house information and links to agencies and data was established on the UNH Extension Food and Agriculture website. This page will continue to be populated over time.
- - Technical Advisor
- - Technical Advisor
- - Technical Advisor
- - Technical Advisor
- - Technical Advisor
- - Technical Advisor
Using the SARE designed Reading the Farm Training (RTF) for Agriculture Service Providers, the New Hampshire agriculture community came together to form the NH Agriculture Service Provider Network. As demonstrated by the SARE Fellows program, participation in the RTF builds comradery, develops relationships and identifies skills of participants. The RTF is the catalyst for a functioning and collaborative working group. A needs assessment and knowledge gaps were identified thru the RTF experience and subsequent focus groups. In addition to the experiential RTF training, an on-line platform will be developed to house multi-agency and multi-organization resources for farmers (a one stop shop).
The Education Plan Submitted with this State Plan was:
Recruitment will be a joint effort. As mentioned above, there is broad desire and consensus for a NH Farm Network. The NH Ag Financiers group will brainstorm organizations and agencies to include and target for outreach. Specific effort will be made to invite and recruit a diverse and representative group of participants. A press release will be created to invite participants to the network. People will use their connections and relationships to reach others they know. Potential participants will be asked to apply to the program, indicating their interest, how the program will benefit their work and how they will utilize the network. Once an extended list of organizations and agencies is compiled, an initial invitation will be sent by the NH SARE Coordinator to participate in the kick-off Reading the Farm training.
There will be several opportunities to engage in the shaping if the NH Farm Network. The first, and perhaps strongest, will be the Reading the Farm training. This will be capped at 50 participants, with a target of 35 individuals. The focus groups will also be a place for interaction, networking and team building, as well as providing feedback.
Invitations to the focus groups will be made prioritizing those who could not join the RTF program.
An initial launch of the NH Farm Network will be kicked-off during the NH Agriculture Open Forum platform that began in response to the Corona Virus. We will use the forum to gather input from agency and organization members on values, approaches, structure and format they prefer to see in a state Farm Network. This will aid in further communication and collaboration efforts between diverse agricultural service provider groups, and continue to strengthen the network.
Once public health restrictions allow, a SARE Reading the Farm Program (RTF), will be led by the current and former NH SARE Coordinator who have significant experience in RTF training. We will use the SARE curriculum and adjust based on group needs, existing expertise within the group, and needs of the individual farm where the RTF is conducted. Participants will be trained in whole farm analysis and will assess farm strengths and weaknesses thru the three legged sustainability stool: farm profitability, environmental stewardship, and strong farming communities. They will be trained on how these components work together, recognizing that no one individual has expertise in all areas of farm production or management. This will further strengthen the network, realizing we are stronger together when taking a team approach to solving problems. Participants will gain skills in reading the farm as a whole, resulting in higher quality services provided to the farmers they work with.
Prior to RTF the SARE Coordinator will conduct a pre-program evaluation of participants, asking each individual to identify their goals for the training and anticipated outcomes for their personal professional development. These individual goals will be used to later measure progress of each individual. The SARE Coordinator will outline the program goals, so that when they arrive at RTF they are ready to jump in to the program.
The Reading the Farm training will be used to further identify professional development needs within the community, and understand the programs, efforts, and focus of the different agricultural agencies and organizations. A second reading the farm program will be offered if interest is expressed, or if public health restrictions limit group size. Additional input will be provided at regular NH Ag Financiers meetings, and will be used to identify additional outcomes and goals of the community and NH Farm Network. The NH Farm network will measure, job satisfaction and performance (as rated by the individual service provider) as a result of the NH Farm network collaboration. We will also measure changes in an organizations ability to meet the needs of clients and their mission, as reported by individuals in the organization.
A post RTF evaluation will be conducted 2 months after the event, focused on assessing continuing education needs of the NH Farm Network, and how the training has impacted their work, what’s going right/wrong and what needs improvement. Evaluation results will be analyzed by the NH SARE Coordinator. A report of the results will be shared with the NH Agriculture Financiers Group for additional input and guidance.
We will measure learning outcomes using a post-pre questionnaire during RTF training that asks participants to rate their knowledge and skills on the different subjects. This may include: comfort level providing guidance on difficult topics, familiarity with whole farm planning, understanding of programs beyond their own, working relationships outside of their organization, etc. Assessments will be made prior to the educational event and at its conclusion. We will assess from participants: What’s going right, what’s going wrong and what needs improvement. This will allow for a more dynamic and engaged program, and will provide us opportunity to modify parts of the program as needed. A final RTF evaluation will be sent out 2-months after the training.
At the conclusion of the open forum groups, a summary report will be written informing the future direction of the NH Farm Network, highlighting topics of interest, professional development needs of agriculture service providers, and identifying knowledge and programmatic gaps. RTF program participants will be asked to share what impact the RTF training had on them, professionally.
Successful partnerships (grants, educational programs, etc) that arise from these efforts will be collected and reported to SARE.
Program promotion and familiarity with the NH Farm Network will be evaluated using social media metrics and website engagement.
NH SARE coordinator organizes and hosts two agriculture service provider open forums, participants will be inclusive of all commodity groups, organizations and industries to facilitate cross learning and networking opportunities. The discussion will be lightly moderated, with the aim to create an organic conversation and flow of ideas.
Three open forums were held to bring together different service providers and farmers to share about their work. These were designed to be "flash presentations" where an invited guest would be invited to share briefly about their work, followed by a facilitated discussion on how service providers can best serve NH Farmers. Some discussion questions included: "HOW do we (organizations) come together to support all farms without duplicating services but instead intentionally come together with all of our strengths" ; "What resources exist for NH beginner farmers seeking land, and what is the current situation in NH regarding land generational transfer"; and finally "what new policies and federal programs are out there to benefit NH Farmers and the NH Food System". These informational discussions were held on Sept 14 (17 participants), October 19 (10 participants) and November 9 (14 participants).
Notes were taken and posted the the "NH Farmers Open Forum" blog post: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/open-forums-nh-farmers
NH SARE Coordinator in conjunction with the administrative assistant collects summary statements and relevant contact information from NH Agricultural organizations (State, nonprofit, federal, university) for use in the NH Farm Network website landing page, as modeled by the Beginner Farmer Network of Maine site.
The NH SARE coordinator identified the UNH Extension webpage to serve as the host for the NH Farm Network page. The NH SARE coordinator and administrative assistant worked with the UNH Extesnion website team to develop a "farmer support networks" page where all future NH Farm Network material will be shared from (https://extension.unh.edu/agriculture-gardens/farmer-support-networks). As of December 1, 2021 the page had 200 unique site views. The new page will be added to as the program evolves during the next phase of the SARE PDP project gets underway in 2021-2024 (Network Development and Skill Building of Agriculture Service Providers for an Inclusive and Food Secure New Hampshire). This page will continue to grow with resources as the network is developed to include a list of organizations who serve NH Farmers and a brief statement of what they do.
The NH SARE Coordinator creates an organizing committee to assist in the Reading the Farm Training.
A core team was identified based on previous Reading the Farm collaborations and interest of the individuals.
50 Agricultural service providers are invited to apply to participate in the Reading the Farm Training by the NH SARE Coordinator.
Due to COVID restrictions, we were unable to hold the training until the late summer when in person meetings were allowed by the host state's institution.
The NH SARE Coordinator connects with a NH farm business to host the RTF Training for NH agriculture service providers.
A host farm was identified and selected based on their availability and willingness to host a group of service providers, and who were willing to open their farm and farm data for analysis. The NH SARE Coordinator worked with the farm to onboard them to the Reading the Farm process, identify the farm goals, and assemble required documents (financial, farm history, profit and loss statements, etc).
The NH SARE Coordinator creates a pre/post program evaluation for RTF Participants with the organizing committee.
In order to achieve goals of the Reading the Farm Program, a few different evaluation techniques were employed. During the registration process, trainees were asked to indicate what expertise they were bringing to the training (ie: nutrient or weed management, food justice, marketing, etc). The NH SARE coordinator took all responses and created a word cloud (attached) indicating topic areas where we had overlapping or strong depth of knowledge and areas we were lacking expertise in. The SARE coordinator used this to invite additional expertise where holes were identified to create a robust group.
Next the trainees were asked to share their goals for the Reading the Farm, and discuss these shared goals as a group prior to the training. Sharing goals as a group helped everyone understand that during this training the goal was to learn from each other and connect as a group. Unlike other trainings where we have an 'expert' one one side and a 'learner' on the other, we set the stage early on that we were all co-learners in this process, and that the strength of the program was in exploring whole farm connections and challenges together. This helps strengthen our network, and provide a more robust set of recommendations for the farm family.
Lastly, a traditional post-event evaluation was developed by the NH SARE coordinator and the core planning team, and was distributed at the end of the 2-day training.
As this project included aspects of network building in addition to skill development, we also conducted a network assessment in the spring of 2021. While we are interested in indivual skill development, we also want to assess the health or functionality of the network. To complete this work, we collaborated with a UNH Masters of Public Administration (MPA) Student, Leah Calverly who had interest in working in the agriculture sector. The MPA student conducted 2 surveys, using qualtrics software. One survey went to UNH Extension Food and Agriculture Staff (17 responses) while the second went to NH Agriculture Service Providers (22 responses). A network heat map was created using NodeXL from information collected from both surveys. Each dot represents an organization. Some modifications were made to simplify the map, for example people reported different divisions within the state department of agriculture, these were merged into one. Thru Leah's work, we discovered that organizations are working together already, which means this network already exists to some extent informally. Leah indicated the next step is to develop these service providers into a formal network by laying out a clear mission, and a website. This assessment demonstrated how we are already function as a network, and how the informality of the network leaves some organizations out, possibly creating inequities across organizations and leaving areas of inefficiency. We hope to be able to run this assessment in the future to track network contentedness over time. Results of the assessment was shared at the RTF event.
16 Agriculture service providers are invited to participate in the 2-day training and networking opportunity. Digital copies of the RTF SARE manual and specifics on farm history, budget information, soil maps, farm plan, goals and vision, and other necessary RTF materials are provided at this time.
A Reading the Farm Orientation was organized 1-week prior to the in-person training. During this 2-hour zoom session, participants were provided an overview of the Reading the Farm process, goals for the training, and provided a historical overview of the farm. In addition participants received information about the farms soil, web and social media presence, marketing channels and lease documents.
A printed copy of the Reading the Farm manual by Northeast SARE along with farm financials was provided to participants at the start of the in-person event. All financial data was shared confidentially, and printed copies were collected by organizers once the event concluded.
35 Agriculture service providers participate in the Reading the Farm (RTF) training at the earliest possible time frame given restrictions poised by the COVID-19 virus. If state or University guidelines mandate, we will break the RTF exercise down to 2 groups of 10, and incorporate online learning into the RTF training. If group size must be limited for public health, we will reduce our overall goal from 35 RTF participants to 16 (2 groups of 8, plus 2 RTF moderators). This is based on current restrictions from University administrators to limit in person events to 10 people including instructors.
The Reading the Farm event took place on September 13-14, the earliest possible time given the farms harvest schedule and restrictions on gathering due to the global pandemic. Participation was limited to 18 to allow for both active participation by participants and allow for ease of large group gatherings during the pandemic.
The week prior to the RTF event, all participants joined or viewed the recording on the Reading the Farm Orientation. This onboarding training provided a high level orientation to the RTF process, introduced the farm family and land and soil information and market channels. The NH PDP coordinator created a video of the farm, their main enterprises and their own goals and desired outcomes for the RTF. The onboarding training allowed us to dive right into the RTF activity without having to provide context during our limited time together as a group.
To facilitate network and relationship building, an optional pre-tour was offered the day prior to the event. The focus of the pre-tour was on understanding the needs of beginner and small scale (under 5 acres) farmers. The pre-tour also provided context on local agriculture and the local food scene. There were 8 participants, plus the NH PDP coordinator on the pre-tour. The group spent a half day visiting two farms as well as a short hike in the area which is well known for for its strong recreational tourism industry, which local farmers are able to tap into. The pre-tour allowed for participants to get to know each other more intimately and build bonds as service providers.
The morning of day one, an agenda of the day was provided, we re-iterated the expressed goals of the farm family, went over the farms financial reports, and prepared for the interviews with the farmers and invited guests. Stations to highlight different areas of the farm ("station tour") were pre-established by the project steering committee and farm family (land leasing, production practices, marketing, and infrastructure). Each station was assigned a speaker and facilitator, which was set up by the PDP coordinator prior to the event. After the station tour, the farm family was invited back for a working lunch where remaining information gaps were addressed and questions from the group answered by the farmers.
The remaining of the afternoon was dedicated to the SWOT analysis without the farm family present, identifying in a round robin style the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the farm. The group took effort to summarize the results of the discussion into a series of themes and bulleted points for a report to the family the following morning. The NH PDP coordinator also compiled a written summary of action items for the farm which were used in follow up meetings between the NH PDP coordinator and the farm family.
Day two began with a group report out with the farm family over breakfast. The NH PDP coordinator took a lead role in disseminating results of the SWOT discussion as she had a pre-established professional relationship with the farm and could contextualize and summarize the results best. Support was provided by participant/trainees as needed. Individuals from the group were identified thru the process to help assist the farm once the RTF was over. Support to the farm in completing the identified action items is ongoing. The NH SARE coordinator continues to take lead in providing support, pulling in other service providers as needed. While completing all the action items recommended in the SWOT could take years, the farm has already made management decisions as a result of the RTF exercise.
Following the report out to the farm family, the NH SARE PDP Coordinator, along with the UNH Extension Beginner Farmer staff-person engaged in a facilitated discussion focused on solidifying the NH Farm Network of service providers. We shared with participants our work thus far identifying holes in the network and reasons for establishing a more coordinated and formal network of service providers. Participants were then asked to form breakout groups where a facilitated discussion took place. Results of the facilitated discussion were collected and compiled into one report that will be used by and has informed the development of the 2021-2024 NH SARE PDP project.
NH SARE Coordinator sends a post-RTF evaluation out to program participants.
Given that we had to shift the training to late summer instead of the previous fall, we were not able to conduct a post-training evaluation 3-6 months after the training as the grant period ended. We did receive multiple responses via email about the training experience after the event concluded.
A 2-page post-event survey was filled out by participants at the end of the 2-day training. The traditional post-event evaluation was developed by the NH SARE coordinator and the core planning team. RTF Evaluation
NH SARE Coordinator works with the UNH Extension Marketing team to launch a marketing campaign of the NH Farm Network, to include Facebook advertising, written stories and advertisement in the NH Farm Bureau Newspaper The Communicator, Morning Ag Clips, and shared with the Northeast SARE office; goal to reach 100 NH Farmers by end of program.
Development of the online platform for farmers will continue to be developed, using the framework this project put into place (https://extension.unh.edu/agriculture-gardens/farmer-support-networks). Due to the global pandemic and restrictions on group gatherings, we were not able to host our kick-off event (Reading the Farm) until the end of the grant period. Without this unifying event we were unable to populate the webpage with resources over the course of a year, as planned. This activity (development of a webpage for farmers to access) will continue on as demonstrated need continues. Now that a group has been assembled and unified behind a common goal, we will be able to aggregate information about services for farmers, the role service providers play in NH Agriculture and contact information to provide a one stop shop web-based resource.
NH SARE coordinator will use open forum summary notes, the 2-month post event evaluation, and 1on1 conversations with agriculture service providers to create a summary report needs assessment of the NH Farm Network moving forward.
The NH SARE coordinator utilized the Open Forum Notes, the NH Reading the Farm program evaluation, the reading the farm day-2 facilitated discussion, participant goals and identified strengths, along with the baseline network survey conducted prior to the training event to create a NH Farm Network needs assessment report. The report was shared with the Extension food and agriculture program team leader as well as extension staff who are developing their own grant-funded initiatives. The report will continue to be used in informing program development by extension staff as well us inform the NH SARE PDP 2021-2024 project.
The NH SARE Coordinator recruits a beginner farmer representative to serve as a liaison to the NH Farm Network.
Due to the global pandemic, the milestones for this project happened out of order. We were unable to hire a beginner farmer liaison until late in the project. We did recruit a beginner farmer liaison near the end of the project, providing critical and important information to the NH Farm Network. The NH SARE coordinator met with the liaison, interviewed them regarding beginner farmer needs, especially highlighting the needs of BIPOC and New American farmers. These needs were then brought back to NH Extension staff and beginner farmer coordinator to inform Extension of programming needs. A report was complied based on feedback from the beginner farmer liaison which will continue to inform the future of the NH Farm Network as well as SNE21-008-NH, Network development and skill building of agriculture service providers for an inclusive and food secure New Hampshire.
Additionally, we were able to work with a Masters of Public Administration student from the University of New Hampshire who had experience in agriculture. The student was informed of the project goals and scope, and developed a survey for Extension staff and service providers throughout the state to assess interest and need of a formalized network. Results of the assessment were shared back with the SARE coordinator and will be used in the future to measure success (or failure) of the networking efforts.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Educational activities conducted by the project team:
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Published press articles, newsletters||1||0||0||1|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||1||0||0||1|
|Workshop / field days||1||0||0||1|
Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total Individuals|
|Farmers / ranchers||4||0||0||0|
The goals of this project were twofold. We hoped to first learn of the professional development needs of service providers across organizations and positions while also forming a cohesive network of service providers who work together to meet collective goals. Program evaluation demonstrated knowledge gain of whole farm planning and increased understanding in how non-production aspects of a farm (family, quality of life, work life balance, finances, etc) affect a farming operation. Of the thirteen evaluations that were completed, majority of participants (7) had no to minimal experience with whole farm planning, and left with moderate to considerable awareness (12) of whole farm planning. The training taught participants how to put the skill they bring to a farm (ie: food safety or greenhouse technology) into perspective of a whole farm system. Based on post-event evaluation responses, participants recorded that they feel more confident in integrating non-production topics into their farm visits. For example, if the participant had expertise in soil science they are more comfortable integrating questions about quality of life when interacting with a farm. One participant reported: "I think this has helped deepen my existing knowledge and will help improve my practice- especially with asking open ended questions."
Furthermore, the training, pre-tour and work to form a cohesive and collaborative network were successful. Participants are more connected to the agriculture service provider network and are more likely to call upon others to join them on a site visit or interaction with a farm family. Overall participants feel more connected to each other and are more aware of the services available to farmers and the individual expertise others hold. When asked if the program built comradery or developed relationships, participants gave very high marks. One participant responded: "I am a new hire so having this network at the beginning of my career is super helpful."
Participants were asked to respond to their comfort level in providing guidance on various topics after the training. Results demonstrate we could use additional training on ‘servicing the needs of historically underserved farmers’ and ‘difficult topics’. Alternatively, participants were very comfortable with ‘whole farm planning’ and ‘servicing the needs of beginner farmers’
Performance Target Outcomes
Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers
16 agriculture service providers will increase their ability to meet the needs of the states’ agricultural community through a collective support system and enhanced relationships with other agricultural service providers. Job satisfaction and performance (as rated by the individual service provider) as a result of the NH Farm network collaboration will be measured.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
Trainees overwhelmingly responded that the are more connected to other agriculture service providers outside of their organization. Participants in the Reading the Farm training are more aware of staffing and individuals at partner agencies, as well as the programs offered by the partner agencies. One participant summed up the training experience like this: "I will be able to help producers more now that I've expanded my network and resources (I can be a better resource in general)."
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
16 agriculture service providers will access the network’s online resources as reported by # of site visits to newly created webpage, and post program evaluation. NH Agriculture Service Providers will aggregate information about the services they provide, the role they play in NH Agriculture and contact information to provide a one stop shop web based resource for farmers in the state (including state, federal, nonprofit and University system).
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
The framework for this site has been developed and will continue to be built out and added to now that the network has formed.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Published press, articles, newsletters||1||0||0||1|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||1||0||0||1|
|Workshops and field days||1||0||0||1|
Eighteen agriculture service providers participated in the Reading the Farm Training, with 15 responses to a post-event evaluation on program impact and verification of learning. Goals of this program were to connect service providers and inform them through an engaging and active learning experience of the resources and programs available to New Hampshire Farmers. Based on evaluation data and participant feedback after the event, this metric was achieved. Participants built personal and professional relationships with others that will carry them thru their careers. One participant said: “Reading the Farm was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from it.” While evaluation data showed increase in knowledge about whole farm systems (how recommendations in one area affect others) and understanding of whole farm planning, it was the personal impact the program had on induvial participants we’d like to highlight.
Additional verification came through post event responses like the following: “Thank you both for all the hard work you put into our Reading the Farm experience—from logistics to facilitation. I’m glad we were able to give [the farm] some constructive guidance on where to focus their efforts. I had never experienced whole-farm planning prior to last week, but now cannot imagine conservation planning without keeping all the social/economic factors in mind as well. Thank you for bringing such incredible folks in from the UNHCE family and beyond, everyone brought experience and perspectives that I haven’t seen and cannot wait to make use of those connections moving forward.
On a personal level, I felt like our training was so necessary to help me feel more inspired to do and be better. I plan to focus more of my energy outside of work to finding community solutions to some of those land access issues we discussed at the end of Tuesday.”
Development of the online platform for farmers will continue to be developed, using the framework this project put into place at https://extension.unh.edu/agriculture-gardens/farmer-support-networks. Due to the global pandemic and restrictions on group gatherings, we were not able to host our kick-off event (Reading the Farm) until the end of the grant period. Without this unifying event we were unable to populate the webpage with resources over the course of a year, as planned. This activity (development of a webpage for farmers to access) will continue on as demonstrated need continues. Now that a group has been assembled and unified behind a common goal, we will be able to aggregate information about services for farmers, the role service providers play in NH Agriculture and contact information to provide a one stop shop web-based resource.
A facilitated discussion was conducted on day two of the RTF with the combined purpose identifying holes in the service provider landscape and to prioritize rising issues for New Hampshire Farmers. Results from the discussion will be used to inform the 2021-2024 SARE PDP project. The group was asked to discuss the 1. rising issues for NH Farmers, 2. choosing one issue from the list developed during question 1, identify solutions we can offer to that challenge. Then the small groups were asked to discuss what we are doing well and what we could do better regarding how service providers are meeting the needs of underserved audiences (including women, BIPOC & LGBTQAI+). Lastly participants listed the types of direct services we are not able to offer NH Farmers due to holes in the service provider network, both staff wise and organizationally. The summary of the discussion will be reviewed by the beginner farmer liaisons in the 2021-2024 Professional Development Project and will inform both open forum topics as well as professional development offerings for service providers.
Additional Project Outcomes
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
SARE Outreach Plan
Host an Online Grant writing webinar. We will either host our own webinar in conjunction with SARE grants manager at UVM, or promote a webinar scheduled by Northeast SARE on the same topic (Fall 2020).
Northeast SARE Grants program presentation at NH Farm and Forest, Concord, NH (February 2021).
Northeast SARE Grants program presentation at UNH Agriculture Nutrition & Food Systems Departmental Seminar, Durham, NH (May 2021).
Participate in Northeast SARE grant review committees as needed by SARE.
Respond to questions and inquiries from farmers and agriculture professionals about SARE grants. (ongoing 2020-2021)
Share SARE activities (grant opportunities and funded projects) via UNH Extension Newsletters and Facebook pages (Fruit & Veggie News plus Dairy & Livestock News), as well as Weekly Market Bulletin published by the NH Department of Agriculture Markets and Food (Ongoing 2020-2021).
Spring 2021 Outreach Activities
Grant opportunities (graduate & partnership) were shared via the UNH Extension weekly newsletter over a period of 4+ weeks (3,500 recipients)
UNH Extension staff have been trained on the grant programs and are encouraged to share the grant opportunities with producers when doing site visits with clients.
UNH College of Life Science and Agriculture, Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Sciences Department Chair shared the RFP with all Faculty and Graduate Students on March 23, 2021. The NH SARE Coordinator connects with the Department chair annually to encourage faculty and graduate student engagement in SARE programs. Graduate students have been introduced to the NH SARE coordinator as a local contact. The SARE coordinator has connected with multiple students over the past reporting year about project ideas and opportunities within SARE.
The Grants training offered thru UVM SARE was shared via the UNH Extension Newsletter.
Attendance at the annual Farm and Forest outreach event was cancelled due to the global pandemic.
Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|