Expanding farmer-to-farmer learning for Idaho's organic farmers


Coordinator: Jennifer Miller, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Stakeholders: Idaho organic farmers

Photo from the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to PesticidesThe goal of this education and outreach project is to improve the success of organic farmers in Idaho by strengthening the sharing and exchange of production and marketing practices through farmer-to-farmer learning. The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) will work with leader organic farmers in Idaho to hold two farmer-to-farmer exchange workshops. We are using a model for this type of training which has been used successfully in Oregon for several years.

The day-long farmer-to-farmer exchanges use a facilitation technique called ‘open space.’ ‘Open space’ facilitation is used to empower participants to take responsibility for their learning and encourages engaging and relevant conversations. Prior to the exchange, we will work with farmers to select the topics that they would like to be covered. The selected topics will be shared with the participants and they will then complete homework ahead of the meeting so that they can share their successes and challenges for each topic. In the open space environment, each farmer is recognized as an expert and is encouraged to share.

This project will work to achieve the following objectives:

  1. 100 organic farmers will share information on their successes and challenges during either a November 2010 or a February 2011 farmer-to-farmer exchange;
  2. Within two months of each workshop, 80 of these organic farmers will have contacted another participant for follow-up information, as measured by a survey;
  3. After learning new methods during the farmer-to-farmer exchanges, 50 farmers will commit to implementing a new production or marketing practice during the 2011 growing season;
  4. By October 2011, 30 farmers will have implemented a new production or marketing practice learned at the exchange workshops, as measured by a follow-up survey.