Organic Education: Increasing Opportunities for Farmers and Processors

2009 Annual Report for LNC06-265

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $114,811.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Organic Education: Increasing Opportunities for Farmers and Processors


Phase 1 of this project was the development of an organic farming educational curriculum for beginning and transitioning organic farmers. The Organic Farming 101 course included 10 seven-hour Saturday classes and four summer field days. Feedback from the 2007-08 participants was very positive indicating the course is provided needed information. Phase 2 of the project was the establishment of an organic processing educational program for regional processors considering organic processing. While the curriculum has been developed in partnership with IOIA, the fall 2009 training had to be postponed due to a lack of registered participants.

Objectives/Performance Targets

This project is designed with the long-term outcome of increasing farmers’ and processors’ profit margins by entering into organic markets. The project also strives to create additional markets for all organic farmers in the region by growing the number of regional organic processors.

Objective 1 of the project is the establishment of an education and mentoring program focusing on organic agriculture methods. The target audiences for this phase will be beginning farmers and conventional farmers considering transition into organic production.

Short-Term Outcome 1: Increasing conventional and new farmers’ and processors’ knowledge of organic farming practices.

Intermediate Outcome 1: Increasing the number of farmers implementing organic practices in North Dakota.

Objective 2 of this project is the establishment of an education program about organic processing and niche markets. The target audiences for this phase of the project include organic farmers and regional processors. Marketing opportunities will arise as a result of growers and processors connecting with each other at the educational events and as new products are developed.

Short-Term Outcome 2: Increasing farmers’ and processors’ awareness of organic and niche markets, which have the potential to increase profit margins.

Intermediate Outcome 2: Increasing the number of regional processors marketing organic products and sourcing regional organic raw products.


Objective 1: Establishment of Organic Farming 101

Good progress has been made towards Objective 1 – the establishment of an education and mentoring program focusing on organic agriculture methods. The second Organic Farming 101 class began in October 2009 with seven participants.

1) The Steering Committee, comprised of organic farmers, organic inspectors and a Farm Business Management instructor, continues to meet as needed for the program.

2) Revised the 10 session organic farming curriculum, based in part on the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings program. The curriculum has been revised to incorporate ideas and feedback from the participants, instructors, and the evaluation consultant.

3) Seven class participants enrolled in the second Organic Farming 101 course. The participants range from conventional producers to certified organic producers. Feedback from the participants so far is very positive, indicating the course is providing needed information. The class will continue to meet until March 2010.

4) One summer field day was held at Pam Anderson’s garden in Driscoll, ND. The topic was organic gardening. About one-third of the participants were from the Organic Farming 101 course and the rest were producers and Extension personnel. Participant feedback was very positive regarding the quality and information presented at this event.

5) Public Outreach: Distributed a four-color brochure for participant recruitment

Objective 2: Development of Organic Processing Training

Objective 2 of this project is the establishment of an education program about organic processing.

1) Working with International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) as co-sponsors of a two-day organic processing training. IOIA has a long history of training independent organic inspectors. They also have done some training sessions for individual processors. By partnering on this training, the Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) will be able to tap into IOIA’s experienced and knowledgeable trainers as well as the IOIA’s strong reputation for high quality training programs. The processing training will be targeted to newly certified organic processors and processors considering organic certification. This would include on-farm processors as well.

2) The April 2009 processing course was postponed until October 2009 due to a lack of registrations. Unfortunately, there were not enough participants to hold the training in October 2009 either. IOIA has suggested we try to hold the training as an on-line training event rather than an in-person event in the spring of 2010.

3) Public Outreach: A press packet announcing the availability of applications was released in mid-February 2009 and again in August 2009. It was carried in a few newspapers, but did not illicit much response. Both organizations also publicized the event through emails, websites and listservs.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

7 Organic Farming 101 Participants (2009-2010)
• 1 currently certified organic producer and/or land owner
• 2 producers transitioning to organic production
• 3 conventional farmers
• 1 non-producers (beginning farmers) entering organic farming/ranching in the next year or two

1 Summer Field Day with a total of 9 participants.
• Organic Garden Tour, Driscoll, ND, August 2, 2009

One of the most exciting developments during the past year has been the interest in organic farming from agricultural professionals working in the Extension service, the North Dakota Agriculture Department, and other Federal agencies, including Fish & Wildlife and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). A number of these professionals have attended various events or farm tours funded through this SARE grant. FARRMS is working with the NRCS to schedule a training for all staff on organic farming principles in 2010.

Organic Processing training – This is one area FARRMS has not been successful at fully implementing. Based on our difficulty recruiting enough participants for the two day organic processing training, FARRMS asked interested parties what prohibited them for registering. The primary response was that the slow economy prevented travel. Another person indicated that the time out of the office for travel and training was prohibitive. We also suspect that the slow economy dissuaded some processors from considering significant production changes or adding new products such as organic lines.


Karri Stroh

[email protected]
Steering Committee Member / Class Facilitator
Organic Farmer
3737 41st Ave SE
Tappen, ND 58487-9307
Office Phone: 7014863569
Virgil Dagman

Steering Committee Member
ND Farm Business Management
James Valley Career/Technology Center
910 12th Ave NE
Jamestown, ND 58401-6513
Rick Mittleider

Steering Committee Member
Organic Farmer
4190 40th Ave SE
Tappen, ND 58487-9314
Dwight Hofmann

Steering Committee Member
Organic Farmer & Inspector
3232 53rd Ave SE
Medina, ND 58467
David Podoll

Course Instructor / Curriculum Advisor
Organic Farmer
9732 79th St SE
Fullerton, ND 58441
Office Phone: 7018834429