Innovative Impact Assessment of Farm and Food Innovations

2015 Annual Report for ONE15-230

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Christopher Callahan
University of Vermont Extension

Innovative Impact Assessment of Farm and Food Innovations


This project will deliver an improved collective innovation, distribution & education, and impact assessment platform for sustainable farm and food innovations as a result of enhancements to the website. The website hosts more than 159 farm and food innovations including the results of many SARE funded projects in areas such as biofuels, planting and cultivation equipment, monitoring, and processing equipment.

Many farm and food innovations suffer from limited distribution, collective innovation and evaluation of impact. These projects represent significant social, commercial and personal investments and their impact could be greater.

The proposed solution is enhancement of the website to allow improved integration of SARE funded hardware and software innovation projects and others with the Farm Hack community design platform. The solution will include (1) understanding the current status of SARE project result distribution and impact assessment, (2) evaluating the Farm Hack user experience, (3) articulating an improvement plan, (4) implementing improvements as a web development project, and (5) evaluating and distributing project results.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The project has stayed largely on track in the first year and has accomplished the planned Phase 1 scope using the intended methods as summarized below.

  • Understanding the current status of SARE project result distribution and impact assessment: We have engaged with select SARE project PIs to understand what features and functionality would better help to disseminate their project results. We sent a survey to 49 project PI’s whose project description aligned with ours. We received responses from 11 (22%) which were helpful in refining and clarifying our project plan.
  • Evaluating the Farm Hack user experience: Pursue user feedback relative to ease of posting tools and evaluation. This was done as part of the survey activity and method noted above. We presented the respondents with our planned scope of feature development and asked for feedback regarding what features would be most beneficial to them in documenting their SARE project results and outcomes leading to improved impact and evaluation of that impact. This feedback helped to address the following scope item.
  • Articulating an improvement plan: Based on #1 and #2, we refined our original development plan as follows.
    1. Phase 1 / Year 1 – Feature development
      1. Tool reviews / tool rankings (e.g. 0-5 stars): Buttons on tool pages for users to indicate their 1 to 5 star rating of the tool. Also data displayed on the tool to indicate the aggregate of all users’ ratings.
      2. Capture of use (“I have built and used this tool” button): A button on tool pages for users to indicate that they have built this tool and corresponding aggregate data displayed on each tool page.
      3. Impact assessment: Related and specially marked posts by users related to a specific tool pages for detailing how the tool was used, how much labor was saved, cost reductions, improved profitability, etc.
      4. Tool searching and wiki formatting: Integrate searching of tool reviews and related documentation to enable users to more easily find and contribute to documentation of tools on the Farm Hack page. This may include incorporation of tags and categories in the tool creation portion of the site.
    2. Phase 2 / Year 2 – Feature revision and finalization
      1. The features developed as part of Phase 1 will be revised based on user feedback and overall evaluation. Additional features and modification of Phase 1 features will likely be included in this follow-on work.
  • Implementing improvements as a web development project. Two web development firms with working experience of FarmHack’s platform were hired to complete the work scope noted above.
  • Evaluating and distributing project results. We are just beginning this component of the Phase 1 work scope before initiating Phase 2 work scope.


April 2015 – Grant Award / Project Kick-Off Meeting – COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE. A web-based team meeting was held to review the project proposal, sponsor feedback and revise the work plan as needed to add detail.


May-July 2015 – Stakeholder Outreach / Web Development Requirements Definition – COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE. A database of relevant SARE projects was compiled to focus outreach efforts. Projects involving farm innovations such as tools, equipment and software were primarily selected for inclusion. The PI contact information associated with these projects was compiled. A preliminary survey was sent to all relevant SARE PI’s (49) to ascertain their familiarity with FarmHack and improvements they would like to see. Responses were received (11, 22%) helped to inform and prioritize the work scope in the next phase of the project. This also helped to identify early adopters and likely partners for beta testing of new features.


July 2015 – Web Development Phase 1 Implementation Kick-Off – COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE – The survey results were reviewed among the team and a prioritized work scope was developed to define Phase 1 implementation. Two web development firms were selected to begin work. Scope and budget details were clarified with NE-SARE office to enable this.

September 2015 – Phase 1 Design Review / Stakeholder Review – COMPLETED LATE, NOVEMBER 15 – The implementation of the Phase 1 improvements was delayed, but was completed within the project year. The upgrades are currently live and functional having been refined based on initial team and user feedback.

October 2015 – Finalization of Phase 1 Enhancements – COMPLETED LATE, DECEMBER 15 – The first phase of feature development has been completed and finalized as noted in the last milestone.



October 2015 – January 2016 – Stakeholder Outreach / Web Development Requirements Definition – INITIATED – DECEMBER 15 – Stakeholder outreach will begin in earnest in the new year. The slight delay in completion of web development pushed this activity’s schedule slightly. The Phase 2 development scope is different enough from the Phase 1 scope that Phase 1 evaluation can be done in parallel with early Phase 2 definition work.


November 2015 – Web Development Phase 2 Implementation Kick-Off – LARGELY COMPLETED WITH PHASE 1 – A team meeting will be held in January 2015 to confirm the remaining, Phase 2 scope and to integrate any lessons learned from Phase 1 work. The stakeholder survey work in Phase 1 helped to clarify needs in Phase 2 components.

February 2016 – Phase 2 Design Review / Stakeholder Review – TO BE COMPLETED, 2016.

April 2016 – Finalization of Phase 2 Enhancements – TO BE COMPLETED, 2016.


April 2016 – June 2016 – TO BE COMPLETED, 2016.


June 2016 – December 2016 – TO BE COMPLETED, 2016.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

No measured impact to report at this stage.


Dorn Cox

[email protected]
11 Randall Rd
Lee, NH 03861
Daniel Grover

[email protected]
11 Randall Rd
Lee, NH 03861