New Opportunities for Families on Small Farms

1997 Annual Report for ENC97-016.1

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

New Opportunities for Families on Small Farms


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 Association, 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: 1) Listening to seminar speakers, talking with trade show exhibitors, and asking questions, 2) 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 3) 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, at least one Extension Specialist, and was as diverse as possible with respect to home-state, farmer/non-farmer, and specialization by discipline, commodity, or type of farming. The presence of SFFP Education Assistants on each team helped create a co-learning situation between those with stronger backgrounds in sustainable agriculture and those with more experience in addressing the unique information and educational needs of small farm families.

A total of 42 people from seven 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. In addition, participants were asked to rank on a scale of one to 10 (10 being highest): 1) What they gained in understanding and knowledge, and 2) 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.

North Central Region SARE 1998 Annual Report.


John Keid

Univ. of MO
MO 65211
Dyemple Marsh

Lincoln Univ.
MO 65102