Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Iowa Organic Association
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Rosalyn Lehman
Iowa Organic Association


  • Agronomic: barley, corn, hay, oats, peas (field, cowpeas), soybeans, triticale, vetches, wheat
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), peaches
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy, eggs, meat


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, pollinator habitat
  • Education and Training: networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: risk management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal abstract:

    This proposal is to develop and deliver "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa," a series of 20 workshops over a three-year period across Iowa to build the capacity of organic expertise among agriculture service providers. The workshops will provide information and resources developed for the targeted audience to expand awareness, knowledge, and expertise to meet the needs of organic and transitioning farmers.

    A diverse group of agriculture service providers, including Iowa Department of Agricultural Land Stewardship
    (IDALS), ISU Extension and Outreach, FSA, NRCS, RC&D, crop insurance agents, lenders and farmer-mentors, will gain basic knowledge about organic transition and certified farming systems from organic experts and the resources presented during the workshop series. Based on target audience and three to four county workshop region, we expect an average of 10 participants for each workshop (200 total participants from 20 workshops).

    The workshops will build upon the outreach and education the Iowa Organic Association (IOA) has conducted - statewide - over the past two years to expand organic educational opportunities and grow the organic community in Iowa. These activities include producer workshops, field days and webinars, participation at organic farm tradeshows and conferences and through research and materials development.

    At the conclusion of the workshops, participants will gain basic understanding about the principles and processes for organic transitioning and certified farmers; a greater awareness about the issues and opportunities related to transitioning and organic farming systems; and additional tools and resources to assist and guide farmers in transitioning and managing an organic farm.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa" workshop series will provide information and resources to help agriculture service professionals better assist and guide the organic community in Iowa.

    Short term outcomes:

    * Gained Knowledge: 95% of attendees gain new knowledge in organic agriculture, organic economics, organic transition, certification, organic system plans, recordkeeping, organic standards, organic integrity and the economics of organic transition. Measured through pre-workshop questionnaire and evaluation responses.
    * Improved connection to the existing organic service provider network and resources available to growers. Through these workshops 75% of attendees gain knowledge in existing resources and programs offered to organic and transitioning farmers in Iowa. 75% identify networking among other local service providers as a benefit of the training. Measured through pre-workshop questionnaire and evaluation responses.
    * Interest in seeking additional knowledge: 75% of attendees express an interest and intention in seeking additional knowledge in organic agriculture following the workshop. Measured through workshop evaluation responses.

    Mid-term outcomes:

    *Following participation in a "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa" workshop, 75% of attendees show an improved understanding and comfort level in organic topics, demonstrate knowledge and resources retained and utilized after the workshop and increased organic-related farmer interactions. Measured by follow-up evaluation responses.                *50% increase in utilization of IOA online resources and fact sheets. Measured by website click data.

    Long-term Outcomes:

    * 75% of agriculture service providers who attended "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa" demonstrate increased interactions with organic and transitioning farmers and conventional farmers considering a transition.
    * 75% of agriculture service providers who attended "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa" demonstrate increased knowledge and interest in seeking new organic knowledge to meet the growing needs of transitioning farmers and the organic industry to help them stay viable in our changing farm economy.
    * Agriculture service providers help to expand, support, and strengthen Iowa's organic community and build upon diverse partnerships to expand programs and resources that support the needs and opportunities of the organic community in Iowa. Measured by number of collaborative events, workshops and/or materials.
    * An increase in certified organic farms in regions where workshops took place compared to regions where there were no workshops. Measured by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data compiled in the USDA 2021 and 2026 Certified Organic Surveys.
    * An increase in Iowa acres covered by organic crop insurance programs. Measured by the annual USDA Crop Year Organic Summary of Business Report Iowa data.
    * 75% increase in utilization of IOA online resources and fact sheets. Measured by website click data.

    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.