Authors: Melissa Fery and Maud Powell, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University Melissa Matthewson, Barking Moon Farm
Publish Date: Spring 2013
A farmer network builds community by creating new business partnerships, creating new friendships, and be deepening existing ones; provides education and mentoring opportunities; and gives farmers a venue for peer-to-peer discussion which often results in innovative production and marketing strategies.
Portland Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, Gorge Grown Food Network, Ten Rivers Foodweb, and Oregon Rural Action are examples of organizations that have helped connect farmers together through networking.
Three OSU Extension Small Farms extension agents developed a new resource available for farmers, university educators, nonprofit leaders, community organizers, and agricultural professionals interested in starting farmer-to-farmer networking opportunities. Creating Farmer Networks: A Toolkit for Promoting Vibrant Farm Communities, PNW 638 is an instructional guide for creating farmer-to-farmer networks. This toolkit is based upon the creation and management of two women farmer networks in Oregon. It is available at: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw638
Through a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Professional Development Program grant, the authors of the toolkit traveled to Idaho and Montana in March, and Northern Oregon in early April to train professionals about network startup, program planning, surveying farmer needs, and communicating with and maintaining farmer networks.