Establishing Integrated Systems Baseline - Educational - Mentoring Programs
The intent of this project is to promote integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices in Maine. Components to date include an initial survey of 225 Maine farmers identified as practicing sustainable agriculture or operating integrated farming systems, 30 in-depth on-farm interviews with selected farms, the initial phases of creating video and slide presentations from 18 of the 30 in-depth interviews, and the initial writing of cases studies of these 30 farms. The creation of a newsletter, the development of a mentoring program for interested farmers, and the mailing of a survey to all Maine farmers are all scheduled for the second and third years of the project.
To develop case studies for roughly 30 farms identified as using integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices.
To create, from 18 of the above 30 farms, a number of slide presentations as an educational piece for Maine farmers. One video presentation will be developed as an awareness piece for the public.
To build a mentoring program that will link together farmers already using integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices with farmers interested in doing so.
To produce a quarterly newsletter for the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS), an organization focused on developing, researching, and promoting sustainable agriculture.
To survey the use of integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices in Maine.
From a survey of farm organizations and Cooperative Extension personnel, a list of 225 Maine farmers identified as currently using integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices was developed. A modified Dillman approach was used to survey these 225 farmers concerning their use of specific agricultural, processing, and marketing, practices and certain demographic and financial information. From the results of this survey, 30 high scoring but geographically, economically, and structurally diverse farms were selected to participate in more in-depth on-farm interviews, 18 of which were videotaped. Case studies are being written for all 30 farms and for the 18 videotaped interviews; material for slide presentations and one video presentation are being prepared.
Based on responses from the above interviewed farmers, MESAS will also develop a mentoring program that will link farmers interested in using integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices with farmers already using them. Using the case studies as a foundation, MESAS will develop a quarterly newsletter to keep its membership informed of the development of sustainable agriculture in Maine. Based on information from the initial survey and in-depth interviews, an instrument will be developed to survey all Maine farmers using a modified Dillman approach. The objective of this survey is to develop a comprehensive baseline of the extent to which integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices are being used in Maine.
Impacts and Potential Contributions
As this is the first year of a three-year project, impacts and contributions are limited. Even so, there has been an increase in awareness among the farmers participating in this project of the significance and importance of their adoption of integrated farming systems and sustainable agriculture practices. They are more aware that they have a leadership role for sustainable agriculture in Maine.
Reported November 2000
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine Department of Agriculture