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Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange

PASA is recognized nationally for cultivating a productive environment for peer-to-peer learning through our field days, annual Farming for the Future conference, and other educational events. Through our strategic plan, we will reinvigorate our Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange network by equipping our farmers with a greater capacity to critically analyze their own sustainability performance and collaboratively discuss strategies for improved performance.

We will achieve these improvements by placing our farm-based research results at the center of our field days, workshops, and webinars, so leading farmers are equipped to showcase innovations on their farm while explaining in concrete terms how their decisions have helped them improve their farm’s economic, environmental, energetic, and social sustainability. For example, a farmer hosting a fall field day on soil health might describe their techniques for establishing cover crops. Using PASA’s environmental assessment tools, the farmer would be able to move beyond anecdotal tips and suggestions to share real data on the number of days of the year that they maintain living vegetation on their fields and their trends in soil organic matter. Prepared with this information, PASA educators would be able to facilitate focused discussion among farmers about opportunities to further improve soil health using cover crops. Likewise, a farmer explaining the highlights of a new vegetable storage system might also be equipped to share a partial budget for their investment and a quantitative forecast for how the equipment may affect their overall financial viability.

We expect this approach of placing quantitative information at the center of our educational events will precipitate productive discussions among peers. These peer-to-peer discussions will help farmers make better decisions about which management approaches to adopt and develop thoughtful plans to improve the overall sustainability of their operations. Some of these discussions may be formal exchanges facilitated by PASA staff, others may be friendly discussions during event meals, and still other exchanges may carry-on via online venues. In addition to improving our field days, we also plan to add capacity to our internet resources to organize and display farm-based research from our participating farms and host discussion-boards and ongoing conversations.

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