New Opportunities for Families on Small Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1997: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Matching Federal Funds: $8,250.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $10,750.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
John Ikerd
University of Missouri Columbia

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, hops, oats, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), grapes, melons, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: pecans, walnuts
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, sheep, swine, fish, ratite, shellfish
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, herbal medicines, homeopathy, manure management, grazing - multispecies, probiotics, grazing - rotational, watering systems
  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, physical control, weed ecology, weeder geese/poultry
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, permaculture, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures


    A comprehensive professional development experience was carried out in conjunction with the 1997 National Small Farm Today (SFT) Conference and Trade Show in Columbia, MO. The Small Farm Conference is an annual event sponsored by the Small Farm Today magazine and is held in Columbia, MO each November. The conference included nationally known speakers and experts on various aspects of farming, however, most speakers are just plain small farmers who are making their farming systems work. More than 2,500 people from more than 20 different states attended the 1997 conference.

    A special professional development program (PDP) preceding the opening day of the SFT seminar and trade show featured Diane Kaufmann, president of the National Pastured Poultry Assn, and Ed Fletcher of Wilcox Natural Products (Medicinal Herbs). Presentations and discussions were followed by a reaction panel discussion that included two Missouri Small Farm Educational Assistants and two PDP participants from other states.

    Small groups of PDP workshop participants were then given team assignments based on case studies representing different small farm situations. The assignment included (a) listening to seminar speakers, talking with trade show exhibitors, and asking questions, (b) making individual and collaborative assessments of the economic, ecological, and social sustainability implications of different ideas, enterprises, methods, or products at the seminar and trade show, and (c) developing a team report concerning new opportunities they discovered for the families on their case study farms.

    Each team included two or more Small Farm Family Educational Assistants, a Extension Specialist, and as diverse as possible with respect to home-state, farmer/ non-farmer, and by discipline, commodity, or type of farming. The presence of SFFP Ed. Assts. on each team helped create a co-learning situation between those with stronger backgrounds in sustainable agriculture and those experienced in addressing the unique information and educational needs of small farm families.

    A total of 42 people from 7 different states attended the PDP -- not including speakers. Participants were asked for written evaluations at the end of the program. Evaluations were very positive with many complementary comments B some of which are included as an appendix to this report. In addition, participants were asked to rank on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being highest) (a) what they gained in understanding and knowledge and (b) the usefulness of what they learned in carrying out their work back home? The average rating for understanding and knowledge was 8.3 and the rating for usefulness was 8.3 as well -- indicating a highly positive evaluation in both categories.

    Funds remaining in the project budget following the 1997 Small Farm Conference were used to support a follow-up project, bringing people from the region to the 1998 SFT Conference to design a NC Regional Sustainable Small Farm Information Network.

    Project objectives:

    The objective of the PDP was to increase awareness among extension workers and other information providers on information delivery methods and new opportunities for enhancing the economic viability of small farms by focusing on ecologically sound and socially responsible farming and marketing alternatives which fit well with small, family farming operations.

    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.