Utilizing the Concept of Whole-Farm Planning to Educate Agricultural Professionals and Farm Families in Ohio about Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $32,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Mike Hogan
OSU Extension

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    The concept of Whole Farm Planning is relatively new to Ohio. Extension and other agricultural professionals have had several "tools" they have used with farmers in individual and group settings, but very few would assist farmers in a comprehensive way in which whole farm planning is designed to do. The workshops were conducted to acquaint agriculture professionals with a wide range of tools, as well as introducing the idea that farmers could possibly be assisted more effectively if they began looking at their farming operation in a more holistic manner.

    The three major components of this program were conducting a Whole Farm Planning Introductory Workshop held in four Ohio locations, statewide workshops as follow-up on specific whole farm planning tools, and development of a series of fact sheets relating to whole farm planning. We also put together a notebook of whole farm planning information from a variety of sources.

    The introductory, or "gateway" meetings were held in November 1998. A total of 124 individuals learned about three goal setting models and six decision making tools at these workshops. Participants now have knowledge about whole farm planning and printed resources that they did not have prior to attending this program.

    The follow-up meetings held in October 1999, focused on holistic management, Farm*A*Syst, and Ontario Environmental Farm Plan. More specific information was shared at this two-day workshop attended by 26 individuals from Extension, NRCS, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, and non-profit groups.

    The Ohio Whole Farm Planning Guide, developed as a series of fact sheets, included information on Goal Setting, Organic Farm Planning, On-Farm Research, Holistic Management, and Monitoring Progress Toward Farm & Community Goals. These will be very useful as agency personnel assist farmers with specific questions concerning moving toward more sustainable farming operations.

    Extension agents, NRCS personnel, farm organization representatives, and farmers are more aware of whole farm planning information available as a result of attending these workshops. The program fostered a better working relationship among agriculture professionals as they shared their expertise and needs with each other.

    Project objectives:

    The Objectives of this training project included the following:

    1. To provide agricultural professionals in Ohio with an understanding of the concept of whole farm planning, as well as sustainable practices which could be used to achieve such plans.

    2. To create an awareness among agricultural professionals in Ohio about the various planning and assessment tools available to conduct whole farm planning.

    3. To create an awareness about the need for whole farm planning and sustainable agricultural practices among Ohio farm families.

    4. To promote the need for collaborative teams made up of farmers, Extension staff, NRCS personnel, and other agencies, where appropriate, to work with farm families on whole farm planning and sustainable practices which could be used to achieve such plans.

    5. To engage farmers and statewide farm and commodity organizations in a dialogue to determine how whole farm planning and sustainable practices can help farm families address various economic environmental, and social issues.

    6. To identify methods which would incorporate whole farm planning concepts and tools into educational programs for farm managers.

    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.