Developing On-Farm Research Expertise Among Farmers in Vermont

2008 Annual Report for ONE08-084

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,997.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Wendy Sue Harper
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

Developing On-Farm Research Expertise Among Farmers in Vermont


Intermediate to advanced growers realize they need farm-specific solutions to increase the sustainability of techniques used on their farms and the viability of their farming operations. However, they often lack the knowledge necessary on how to conduct on-farm research that can provide farm-specific answers. The goal of this project is to increase the viability of organic and sustainable farms in the Northeast by creating a mechanism for farmers to identify their research priorities and conduct on-farm research. At a farmer-to farmer exchange, they will learn how other farmers have conducted on-farm research as a part of their farming operation, and they will develop priorities for research on their farms. Farmers will undertake on-farm research and design experiments to answer specific questions, and then share the results of their research at on-farm demonstrations and through photo documentation and written reports. This core-group of farmers will have the knowledge necessary to mentor other farmers on how to conduct research on their own farms.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • 60 farmers will attend a two-day farmer-to-farmer exchange conference for intermediate to advanced farmers who are seeking farm-specific information to increase their management skills and improve the viability of their farms.

    As an outcome of the conference:

    Farmer participants will develop their own written on-farm research priorities.

    Farmers’ on-farm research priorities will be developed into a document that will be shared with Northeast Universities, State Extension Systems, as well as the State Agency of Agriculture to strengthen research partnerships among farmers and researchers.

    10 farmers will develop on-farm research ideas.

    8 farmers will set up on-farm research projects.

    6 farmers will successfully complete on-farm research projects and hold an on-farm workshop reaching other interested farmers, researchers and other agricultural professionals.

    The farmer-to-farmer exchange and on-farm demonstrations will establish a core group of farmers who understand how to conduct on-farm research and can serve as mentors for other growers interested in conducting research on the farm. An outcome of this proposal is that farmers will be more effective at identifying research priorities and conducting on-farm research, farmers will develop more successful SARE Farmer-Grower Grants, and research partnerships are strengthened among farmers and researchers resulting in more strategic proposals


  • This project is in its very beginning stage. The farmer-to-farmer conference has been planned and is scheduled for January 5th and 6th.

    On-farm record-keeping and research resources have been compiled and developed for participant notebooks.

    The conference was advertised; we estimate that over 1000 organic and sustainable fruit and vegetable producers were reached through press releases and direct mailings to lists from NOFA Vermont, the University of Vermont, and Vermont Vegetable & Berry Growers Association, and other northeast organizations that serve organic/sustainable fruit and vegetable producers.

    Over 60 participants have registered from 5 states.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This project is in its very beginning stage. The farmer-to-farmer conference is scheduled for January 5th and 6th.


John Hayden

Farmer Cooperator
The Farm Between
Tom Streans

Farmer Cooperator
Hign Mowing Organic Seeds
Andy Jones

Farmer Cooperator
Intervale Community Farm
Richard Wiswall

Farmer Cooperator
Cate Farm
Peter Griffin

Farmer Cooperator
Old Shaw Farm