I’m Chris Blanchard of Purple Pitchfork market-farm consulting in Madison. Since 2014, I’ve interviewed professional organic farmers for a weekly podcast, Farmer-to-Farmer. Each episode covers tools and techniques employed by the featured farm, giving the podcast’s 20,000+ weekly listeners ideas to improve operations.
But after 100+ episodes — and among my colleagues from 25 years as an organic grower — I’m hearing demand for expanded resources, specifically in-depth discussion of farm business resilience. On and off the air, my guests relate quality of life issues that keep them up at night. I get it: I’m a cancer patient myself. The first step in resilience, they suggest, is naming what could happen or has happened to their businesses and examining how farmers have survived.
This proposal, Increasing Market-Farm Enterprise Resilience in Response to Significant Weather Events, Significant Life Events and Other Threats to Livelihood, would fund in-depth discussion of growers’ response to:
- Weather, not limited to drought, flood, or wind;
- Life events, such as death, divorce, and disease; and
- Operational breakdown, including loss of financing.
To start, I’ll convene a team of collaborators that includes North Central Region farmers and industry experts. They will vet project protocols and draft a selection process for farmers to participate in this project. Criteria will be guided by team expertise and topics uncovered in Farmer-to-Farmer Podcast episodes, which have been transcribed for team review. Together we will invite participants across digital and print media and events, including:
- the Farmer-to-Farmer Podcast, this project’s main vehicle for outreach;
- USDA, Extension and SARE;
- farm organizations, such as MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainability Education Services), Land Stewardship Project, and Practical Farmers of Iowa
We’ll select up to 75 qualifying producers, and I will interview each. Then, we will choose the best of this content and interview up to 15 producers in-depth, culminating in six 90-minute podcasts that bring together multiple voices for curated discussion.
All media will become SARE resources and be available free at www.purplepitchfork.com, promoted through the Farmer-to-Farmer Podcast and through farm organizations.
These discussions capitalize on storytelling, a format ideally accessible to farmers, who listen to podcasts while doing physical work, or skim transcripts after sundown.
Hearing farmers discuss their vulnerability ultimately helps North Central producers plan for resilience. This project may also provide farmers solace in a crisis, now or years after this project’s completion. No one farms alone.
Project objectives from proposal:
20,000+ farm business people will learn about potential threats and strategies other farmers have used to overcome these threats by listening to podcast episodes produced in this project.
Action outcomes include helping farm businesspeople anticipate and plan for these threats to business. Both beginning and experienced producers benefit from evaluating what resilience means in their operations, helping farms stay viable. We expect 1,000 farmers or industry professionals will implement at least one strategy explained in the podcasts to increase business resilience.
Outcomes will be measured by user feedback and a survey. See Optional Attachment Podcast User Metrics for sample quantitative data.