Enhancing Evaluation Capacity to Improve Sustainable Agriculture Programs and Outcomes in Vermont
This project, conducted from 2017 to 2020, is increasing the ability of agricultural service providers in Vermont to apply evaluation concepts and techniques to improve their sustainable agriculture programs in ways that increase impact at the farm level. The project is focuses on program evaluation conducted in two transdisciplinary program areas: a) those that help new farmers establish and grow sustainable farm businesses and b) those that help farmers implement practices that reduce agricultural nonpoint water pollution. As such, it is engaging a diverse group of agricultural service providers from Extension, nonprofit and government agencies who work across a variety of crop and livestock production, marketing and business development content areas.
Participants are gaining both conceptual foundations and practical skills that they will use to strengthen their nutrient management, cover cropping, grazing management, enterprise planning, business planning, marketing, financial management, apprenticeship, and farmer mentoring programs. By applying what they learn, participants will: gather more meaningful needs assessment data; develop more powerful learning objectives for their programs; keep better track of participant learning and behavior change; increase their understanding of factors that support or inhibit farm level adoption; use data generated through internal reviews and client feedback to improve service planning and delivery; and more effectively communicate the value of their sustainable agriculture programs to agricultural audiences, funders, and the general public.
Recently Completed Project
Social Sustainability on the Farm
This three year initiative, begun in Fall 2014, helped ag service providers from Extension, non-profits and farmer organizations learn skills to help Vermont farmers address their concerns and stresses related to farm succession, community connections, health and well being, equity, and entrepreneurship. Participants gained a better understanding of the roles that social sustainability concerns play in farm business and production planning, became better prepared to help farmers understand and cope with changes on their farms and in their families, and learned how to measuring the impacts of Extension programming or other services on farms’ social sustainability.