Participatory On-Farm Agroecological Education: Assessing the Effectiveness of a 14 year Farmer-University Partnership
CSANR Project 175
Recent decades have seen a growing recognition that diversified, small, organic and sustainable farms have been underserved by standard public agricultural research and extension paradigms (FAO 2011, IAASTD 2009, IPES 2016). Following the publication of the seminal USDA report “A Time to Act” (1998), a state legislative initiative established a Small Farms Program (SFP) at WSU to focus specifically on research and extension for small-scale, sustainable and organic producers. At listening sessions organized by SFP Director (PI Ostrom), producers expressed interest in learning organic farming techniques directly from the most innovative organic farmers in the state. In response, Ostrom worked with Tilth Producers of Washington to launch a series of farmer-to-farmer learning events on the state’s leading organic farms each growing season. Now in its 14th year, this collaborative program has featured interactive workshops on over 125 of the state’s most innovative farms and attracted an average of 45 participants per Walk. Farm Walks have featured BIOAg farmer research partners and engaged university BIOAg researchers in outreach whenever feasible. We propose to assess program outcomes through compiling on-site evaluations and surveying past participants. Results will inform future program design and two publications.