Improving the quality of life for Southern organic farmers and farm workers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $190,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Leah Cohen
Florida Organic Growers

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, social capital, sustainability measures


    • The purpose of the project was to explore perspectives on and conditions of social justice in the food system in the South and provide tools for improving the quality of life of organic farmers and farmworkers. This was done by researching organic farmers’ experiences and priorities and the public’s knowledge and support for just food system practices, as well as by providing trainings for farmers and workers, a domestic fair trade certification program, and raising awareness of the public about food system practices. The project’s major accomplishments included:

      A snail mail survey to 400 certified organic growers in the South about their priorities and challenges related to fair trade and labor practices, for which preliminary results are reported and a journal article is being finalized
      A public survey to 266 individuals about their priorities and knowledge of fairness issues in the food system for which preliminary results are reported and a journal article is being finalized
      Extensive capacity building of a regional organic certifier and the regional farmworker organization in order for them to serve as a resource and tool for farmers and food businesses who want to improve labor and trade practices
      Testing of a training model for farmworkers on health and safety and their rights under the law and under the Agricultural Justice Project standards,
      Development and distribution of tools for growers to improve labor and trade practices and policies.
      Completion of certification for the first Food Justice Certified farm in the South, and
      Execution of a public education program to raise public awareness of fairness issues in the food system, including creation of a film to be widely distributed.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1: Identify best practices and support for socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable agriculture through research on perceptions, priorities, and practices on organic farms in the South.

    Objective 2: Assist farmers and others essential in our food system in benefiting from a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable farming and food system model by providing education and outreach tools and certification and by assessing the impact of the system and tools.

    Objective 3: Research public knowledge of and support for social, economic, and environmental sustainability in agriculture and the full food chain and explore commitment to pay for AJP certified products.

    Objective 4: Develop and implement a public outreach and education model to raise public awareness of quality of life issues in agriculture and the food system.

    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.