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Organic Sound and Sensible Resources: Expanding Organic Education through Others

Posted by Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program in Conservation Food and Nutrition Farming
Feb 04, 2016
A group of people in front of high tunnels
The NCAT sound and sensible project focused on educating farmers and ranchers in the Gulf States region about organic production, as well as helping facilitate organic certification.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) is continuing to launch new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are launching resources that help those who help others – guides and resources that help organizations reach out to and educate potential organic farmers. These resources were produced by our partners in the organic community, all of whom have on-the-ground experience teaching producers about the organic option.

Plain/Mennonite Farmer Outreach Package (Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association - OEFFA): This package provides a suite of paper-based guides, workbooks, and community outreach materials to help organizations conduct a targeted organic awareness campaign with Plain/Mennonite Farmer communities. The resources are designed to promote and support interest in organic certification and organic inspector training.

Farm Walk Peer Education Program Instruction Guide (Washington State Department of Agriculture - WSDA): This guide is a resource to help organizations sponsor and organize Farm Walks, which are peer-to-peer, on-farm education events that allow sustainable and organic farmers to learn about innovative farming practices and build relationship with peers in their community.

Peer Certification Mentorship and Education Programs for the Newly Certified (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont - NOFA-VT): This package provides tools to help certifiers and other stakeholders implement a peer mentorship program for certified producers in their community. The package contains sample intake forms, mentor agreements, and evaluations to jumpstart a successful mentorship program and measure progress.

Organic Expert Program Training (Massachusetts/Baystate Organic Certifiers - MBOC): This training provides a suite of products to help certifiers develop an Organic Expert Program that trains independent consultants, who can then serve as experts for farms and businesses seeking organic certification. Products include best practices and lessons learned from the pilot program, a marketing plan, and a detailed roadmap for program startup.

Tools from the Field: Organic Outreach Success in the Southeast (National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)-Gulf States): This package provides lessons learned, key tips, and insights for organizations considering an outreach and training program on organic certification.  Resources include tools for a workshop series, including an agenda, registration materials, evaluation forms, and promotional materials that can help streamline the logistics of certification workshops. Read about NCAT’s experiences in organic outreach next week on the USDA blog.