Building Resilient Organic Farms through Communities of Practice

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $39,934.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Lori Stern

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, leadership development, quality of life, social networks, social psychological indicators

    Proposal abstract:

    Farmers rely on other farmers for information and advice on practices. Traditionally, this has been through relationships with neighbors and nearby family. With organic agriculture, a beginning farmer or farmer looking to transition to organic might not know any other organic growers in their own neighborhood or personal networks.

    Farmers can find it overwhelming to understand the regulations and best organic practices to follow on their farm. Today’s successful organic farmers reached this point by helping each other improve their operations.

    MOSES will organize grower groups to provide the support of a wider community to beginning organic farmers. The farmer-led grower groups would be organized around geographic location and production practices. They would have MOSES support in promoting the groups as well as in providing content for their gatherings as needed.

    A key to success for farmer-led groups is engaged leadership. In order to form strong groups, and to strengthen existing grower groups around the region, MOSES will form a Farmer-Leader Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP will have electronic communications, webinars or online meetings, and meetings at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. The activities will provide a platform for farmer-leaders to help each other and share information.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The long-term goal of this project is to build resilient organic communities throughout the region. The groups will contribute to the success of new organic farmers, lead to farmers improving their practices by learning from each other, and build lasting relationships and grower communities. The farmers will take ownership of the groups, and the groups will continue to organize with minimal input from MOSES. The CoP will help to ensure that the groups are successful in the long-term by supporting and developing group leaders. MOSES staff will complete a Best Practices document for grower group leadership.

    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.