Insight into Action: A Needs-Based Assessment of Four Sustainable Farms in Iowa

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Sustainable Iowa Land Trust
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

SILT will use grant funds to
perform a needs-based assessment on Iowa’s under-studied table
food farms. The need is dire: most of Iowa’s small, sustainable
farmers aren’t able to sell at a profit. We can help remedy this
by acquiring thorough information from farmers, then using data
to research, implement, and widely disseminate solutions. This
project is innovative because it leverages SILT’s diverse network
of trusted farmers.

In year one, four SILT farmers in
Iowa will thoroughly document a full growing season, including
inputs, outputs, profits, losses, opportunities, and challenges
regarding growing, harvesting, marketing, farmers’ markets,
processing, wholesale, safety, equipment, certifications,
storage, and preservation. Farmers will fill out surveys at the
beginning of the project and at months one, six, and twelve to
reflect on what they learn.

In year two, using
farmer-provided data, SILT will determine what skills, practices,
knowledge, awareness, and attitudes our farmers are lacking and
create materials that fill those gaps. Results will include new
educational booklets and webpages, training sessions with partner
organizations specializing in business operations, and a
published white paper. Data will also inform how SILT approaches
future partnerships. Farmers will remain involved by
participating meaningfully in an outreach activity during year

Project objectives from proposal:

  • Perform 4 needs-based operation
    and market evaluations of SILT farms 
  • Determine at least 5 specific,
    actionable gaps in farmers’ skills, practices, knowledge,
    awareness, and attitudes
  • Develop at least 3 new
    online/print educational packets for farmers that respond to
    these gaps
  • Share new material with at
    least 2,500 Iowans, including 100 farmers
  • Organize 3 training sessions with partner
    organizations specializing in business operations
  • Host at least 25
    farmers/agricultural professionals at each training
  • Write and publish 1 white paper
    on the study
  • Develop at least 1 meaningful
    partnership in each Iowa quadrant that contributes to a
    sustainable food network
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.