Gaining Results through Evaluation Work (GREW): Evaluation Support for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Programs

Students in the Apprenticeship beginning farmer training program at the UCSC Farm. Photo by Jim Clark.

This project will support the development of strong, effective, and long-lasting farmer and rancher training programs to ensure that beginning farmers and ranchers (BFRs) can enter the field and establish successful farming businesses.

Funded in 2018 with a grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and led by CASFS, the 3-year educational enhancement team (EET) effort will equip BFR organizations nationally with tools and skills to effectively conduct evaluations that clearly document program impacts, improve programming, and enable program staff to identify and respond to farmers’ needs. Such documentation and program improvements will increase participants’ success and provide the accountability needed for the long-term viability of BFR programs.

To receive announcements about project tools and events, and get other evaluation-related information, sign up on our Listserve (run by Tufts University).

Project Activities

1. Provide evaluation tools – these tools will help BFR organizations identify key outcomes and measures that can be used to make creating an evaluation easier. Tools include:

  • Pathway Analysis – to identify outcomes most likely for success
  • Outcomes List – to identify key outcomes and indicators
  • Resource List – to identify a variety of example survey instruments, assessment instruments and other resources.
2. Provide evaluation training – webinars (starting in late 2019/early 2020) will share technical information for conducting evaluations. Currently planned topics include:
  • Using the tools developed by the GREW project
  • Doing follow-up surveys
  • Using assessment instruments
  • Incorporating evaluation into everyday practice
3. Provide professional development – an online learning community (starting 9/2019) will provide the means for BFR training organization staff to learn from each other, and from project evaluators. Topics may include:
  • What are the most important outcomes/indicators to track? For whom?
  • What are ways to evaluate farmer success?
  • Long-term outcomes – what is worth measuring for long-term programs?
  • What is the best way to address the logistics of doing evaluations?
  • Provide feedback on organization’s surveys and assessment instruments
  • Feedback about evaluation to the USDA – how should topics be structured?

4. Provide a web-based repository for evaluation materials

Expected Outcomes

  • BFR organization staff should find conducting evaluations more accessible and efficient.
  • BFR organizations’ evaluation will become more effective, providing better information to stakeholders.
  • Better evaluation tools and practices will also improve BFR education and outreach activities, to help farmrers and ranchers learn more and become more successful.

Led by CASFS, this evaluation partners with Virginia Tech (Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition)New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, and Tufts University. Project oversight and guidance is provided by Agricultural Land Based Learning Association (ALBA), Farm Credit Council, Land for Good, Land Stewardship Project, University of Vermont Extension and Mavrolas & Associates.

Read a press release about the project

See a poster about the project from the 2018 BFRDP Directors' Meeting

casfs logo  new entry logo  va tech logo   tufts logo


Project Advisors

alba logo farm credit logo  land for good logoland stewardship logo university of vermont logo

Project Funding

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See Also