Growing Organics: Integrating Science, Farmer Indigenous Knowledge, and Experience in Expanding Organic Production in Ohio

Project Overview

LNC07-288
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $140,415.75
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Mike Anderson
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Co-Coordinators:
Carol Goland
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Annual Reports

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: general education and training

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this project is to provide the information and education that will assist farmers in the successful adoption of organic production practices. Short-term project outcomes are heightened awareness of organic production as a viable option, increased knowledge and skills related to all facets of organic crop production, and greater experience with organics so that producers have opportunities to develop favorable attitudes about organic production. Intermediate outcomes are the adoption of organic production methods (transitioning from conventional, for existing farmers or initiating organic operations, for new farmers) and expanding capacity for current organic farmers. The goal is to increase the number of organic farmers and acreage under organic management in Ohio by at least 50 percent. This goal is warranted given increased demand for organic products and the economic opportunity this represents to farmers. Currently in Ohio, farmers’ needs for information about organic production are not being met. Our approach recognizes that delivering appropriate educational programming to farmers requires providing both technical information as well as experiential opportunities. This is reflected in project activities: -on-farm workshops, -classroom-style seminars, -field days, and -apprenticeships. Outputs include the establishment of a farmer-to-farmer education network, an organic production manual, farmer-friendly “science you can use” fact sheets, the establishment of a farmer advisory council for organic research and education, and an organic farming apprenticeship program. Progress towards desired outcomes will be assessed using standard survey and feedback measurement techniques.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will utilize a series of formal and experientially-based educational programs and opportunities aimed, in the collective, to increase the number of farmers using organic production methods and the number of acres under organic management in Ohio. The target audience includes conventional farmers converting to organic production, existing organic producers who wish to expand capacity, and new farmers who adopt organic practices.

    Expected short-term outcomes are that farmers will:
    -Improve awareness of organic production as an option (and awareness of OEFFA and OFFER as reliable sources of information);
    -Increase knowledge of organic production methods, marketing, and compliance with organic certification regulations;
    -Develop better skills with regards to managing soil fertility under organic production regimes, season extension, pest and disease management, equipment maintenance, and conducting audit trails;
    -Develop favorable attitudes towards organic production as a viable alternative for their own operations.

    Expected intermediate outcomes, which encompass changes in the behavior or practices of the target audience, are that farmers will:
    -Expected intermediate outcomes, which encompass changes in the behavior or practices of the target audience, are that farmers will:
    -Utilize OEFFA as a resource for learning about organics and for educational support for organic production and for undertaking organic transition;
    -Begin (and/or complete) the process of transitioning to organic production practices and seek certification for organic crop production for both row crops and horticultural crops;
    -Adopt new crop varieties, increase acreage, or employ season-extension strategies that expand their production capacity (for existing organic producers);
    -Undertake apprenticeships at organic farms and adopt organic production practices from the beginning of their own operations (for new farmers).

    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.