Creating Sustainable Agriculture Farmer-to-Farmer Networks through Professional Trainings and an Agricultural Educator Toolkit

2013 Annual Report for EW11-015

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $99,590.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Melissa Matthewson
Oregon State University Extension

Creating Sustainable Agriculture Farmer-to-Farmer Networks through Professional Trainings and an Agricultural Educator Toolkit


The creation of farmer-to-farmer networks is an important tool for agricultural professionals to reach sustainable agriculture producers. This project aims to accomplish a number of objectives related to farmer networks. The first objective is to design a toolkit for developing farmer-to-farmer networks. The toolkit will include information on the relevance and impacts of farmer networks, a facilitation manual, and corresponding outreach materials including sample fliers, a list of potential activities and class offerings, possible organizational structures, and an explanation of on-line social networking opportunities. As well, the toolkit will include information on leadership training for farmers. Second, we will design and conduct four half-day trainings in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana for agricultural professionals on the nuts and bolts of starting a farmer network. In addition, we will design and conduct four half-day meetings with pilot women farmer networks in WA, OR, ID and MT. 



Objectives/Performance Targets


    1. We will train a total of 40 agricultural professionals on the nuts-and-bolts of developing successful farmer networks in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. Trainings will occur in 4 locations, with an average participation of 10 individuals per site. 
    2. We will hold four half-day meetings with pilot women farmer networks in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. 
    3. During the first year, we will hold 16 consulting sessions (four with each state partner) with leaders of the pilot women farmers’ network. There will be additional consulting sessions as needed with a minimum of 10 during the second and third years of the project.
    4. The project will produce an on-line and paper toolkit for developing farmer-to-farmer networks. The toolkit will include information on the relevance and impact of farmer networks, facilitation manual, and outreach materials including sample fliers and brochures, a list of potential activities for farmer networks, sample list of class offerings,  a list of options for organizational structure of the network, an explanation of on-line social networking opportunities and other resources available to farmer networks. 


2013 was a major year for the SARE project. Much of what we planned to do was accomplished. 

The toolkit, “Creating Farmer Networks: A Toolkit for Promoting Vibrant Farm Communities” was published in February of 2013 by Oregon State University’s Extension and Experiment Station Communications department and is now available for download through the OSU Extension Catalog. The publication is a 54-page Pacific Northwest Extension publication, which ensures its wide distribution throughout the Northwest. The toolkit includes topics like planning your network, recruitment, network development including structure, communication, programming, evaluation, tips for success, common problems and facilitation resources. We also included many examples of surveys, outreach materials and links to more resources. The toolkist was distributed for free at all workshops in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. 

We also held a 75-minute session at the OSU’s Small Farms Conference in Corvallis in February of 2013. 61 people attended the workshop. It was titlted: Starting a Farmer to Farmer Network. Melissa Matthewson, Maud Powell, and Melissa Fery all led the session and it was evaluated by participants. This was an additional/extra workshop we added after being funded by SARE for the project. 

We traveled to Montana, Idaho, Washington and northern Oregon to hold our workshops in March and April of 2013. The first workshop was for agricultural professionals in which we presented on the toolkit that had been created. 62 combined agricultural professionals representing various sectors of agriculture participated in the workshops in WA, OR, MT & ID. All participants received a copy of the toolkit. We have uploaded a copy of the agenda as well as PPT presentations from the workshops. Much of the workshop was interactive with role playing and small group exercises. Groups were diverse and the setting was intimate creating a nice workshop for agricultural professionals. 

We also facilitated a half-day steering committee meeting with regional women farmers to begin their launch of the local women farmer network in all four states. We worked closely with partners in each state to narrow in on a region and a target audience so that we reached our intended outcomes and audience. There were 84 combined participants in MT, OR, ID & WA. 

In addition, OSU Extension Service faculty (Maud Powell and Melissa Fery) were invited to teach a workshop, Finding Support through Farmer-to-Farmer Networking at the 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture in Des Moines, Iowa in November 2013. This venue provided an opportunity to extend the reach of the network toolkit to a national level. The workshop was well received by agriculture professionals, primarily Extension educators attending the conference. This was also an additional accomplishment not written into the grant. 

After traveling and conducting workshops, we began evaluation of the project. We have gleaned short-term impacts of the project through evaluations of workshops and will conduct our in-depth evaluation this spring as a follow-up to the project. 

We continue consulting with partners in the four states on an as needed basis as they continue formulating their women farmer networks. 

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Impacts from 2013

  • PNW638 publication entitled Creating Farmer Networks: A Toolkit for Promoting Vibrant Farm Communities was downloaded a total of 759 times between February and October 2013.
  • An additional 120 toolkits were distributed during workshops and trainings.
  • As a result of the multi-state training efforts three new women farmer networks were created in the Northwest states.
  • Survey results from the four trainings generally indicate that nearly 50% of the agriculture professionals feel equipped to start farmer-to-farmer networks in their service areas, after participating in the training. 
Overall, the training participants rated the training workshops from Poor to Excellent on a 5 point scale, 1= poor to 5= excellent. The average rating for the training was 4.1.
The participants indicated what their plans were regarding implementing their knew knowledge.
Implementation Plan # of responses
Start new network 15
Strengthen existing network 16
Conduct outreach 7
Explore idea of new network 4
Start conversation in community 4
Do needs assessment 4
Join existing network 2
Improve communication 2
Improve facilitation techniques 2
Develop strategic plan and structure of network 1
Implement evaluation/feedback of network 1
Share information with others 1
We are currently evaluating the project and will have final outcomes/impacts in the final report to SARE. 


Kevin Moore

[email protected]
Sustainable AG & Food Systems Program Coordinator
432 N. Last Chance Gulch
Helena, MT 59601
Office Phone: 4064437272
Sarita Schaffer

[email protected]
Regional Director of WSU Latino Farming Program
11768 Westar Lane, Suite A
Burlington, WA 98233
Office Phone: 2069147948
Amanda Snyder

[email protected]
Idaho Small Farms Cultivating Success Coordinator
University of Idaho
20 E. 5th St., Room 336 PO Box 8068
Moscow, ID 83843
Office Phone: 2088832267
Kristin Pool

[email protected]
OSU Extension Research Associate
Oregon State University
15210 NE Miley Rd
Aurora, OR 97002
Office Phone: 5036781264
Melissa Fery

[email protected]
OSU Extension Small Farms Instructor
1849 NW 9th Street
Corvallis, OR 97330
Office Phone: 5417666750
Maud Powell

[email protected]
Small Farms Instructor
569 Hanley Road
Central Point, OR 97502
Office Phone: 5417767371