Learning Community


The GREW Learning Community provides a shared space and dialogue-driven venue for peer-to-peer learning, to build program evaluation capacity for improved beginning farmer & rancher programming.  

How It Works

  • All sessions focus on peer interaction and knowledge sharing, along with evaluator participation. Some sessions will focus more on exploring peers’ best practices, others may be more workshop focused, with skill building as a primary goal.  
  • Come prepared to participate! There will be small breakout groups to encourage idea sharing among all participants. You may get short reflection exercises to be completed ahead of time.
  • Sign-up early! Some sessions will have limited number of spaces for attendees.
  • The Learning Community provides the opportunity for people to pick and choose sessions that most fit their needs and interests. 
  • All sessions will be 90 minutes long.

Who’s it For?

The target audience for the GREW learning community sessions are:

  • Individuals aiming to improve their beginning farmer & rancher programming 
  • Individuals who have interest in learning more about evaluation as it applies to their beginning farmer experience. They may or may not have experience in program evaluation.
  • Individuals who share an interest in learning from peers and peer organizations. 

Desired Outcomes for Participants

The goal is to help the participants build their inspiration, confidence and capacity to implement more and better program evaluation activities.

Session Products

In order to encourage full participation, sessions will not be recorded (except for short intro presentations), but general notes may be taken on the group’s whiteboard. Generally, these notes will only be available to those who participated in the session. For some sessions, a list of best practices will be available to those who cannot attend.

Upcoming Sessions

More information coming soon! Join the GREW listserv to receive updates.

Previous Sessions

Farmer Training Program Planning and Evaluation: GREW Resources and Applied Lessons
Friday, November 6, 2020, 12pm -1:30 pm PT / 3pm-4:30pm ET

In this session, presenters explored helpful tools for the important but often overwhelming processes of program planning and evaluation for apprenticeship and incubator programs. An overview of GREW Tools was provided, describing each item and how it can be used. Apprenticeship program staff from CASFS share how they used these tools for developing a revised apprenticeship program. New Entry staff shared how they used these tools to develop their new outcomes evaluation design process to track and evaluate their incubator participants over New Entry’s 20-year program history. Breakout groups were not recorded, but a final group discussion at the end of the session is included (78 minutes). 

Jennifer Hashley & Kevin Cody (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project); Clare Riesman, Jan Perez & Leigh Gaymon-Jones (Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, UC Santa Cruz), Elizabeth Cooper (Tufts)

Identifying Beginning Farmer and Rancher Needs in Times of Change: Exploring an Appreciative Perspective for Responsive Programming
Thursday, July 16, 2020, 10:00 am-11:30 am PT / 1:00pm-2:30pm ET

Assessing stakeholder needs is an important activity for program development, particularly in times of great change. In this session, we will explore how we might develop or refine programming through assessment that includes an appreciative lens – assessing strengths and assets as well as needs. In both small group (4 or 5 people) and large group discussions, we’ll address questions including:

  1. What have we been doing to identify farmer and rancher needs in this time of change and uncertainty, and what have we learned? 
  2. How can we integrate what we learn about needs into our programming? 
  3. How might we implement future assessment with an appreciative lens?

The goal for this session is that participants get ideas for doing future needs assessments at their organizations. This session will be most useful for those with experience implementing applied research (evaluation, needs assessment, etc.) at their organization, as this session is not a traditional training. However, anyone who needs to collect information to make programming changes is encouraged to attend.  

Reflection in a Time of Rapid Response: How to Better Pivot Beginning Farmer and Rancher Programming in Times of COVID-19
Thursday, May 7, 2020, 10:00 am-11:30 am PT / 1:00pm-2:30pm ET

Evaluative thinking is a practice meant to help people and organizations improve their programming – to be more effective, strategic and responsive. It is a practice that can be part of an overall evaluation plan, or used independently on a regular basis. It can be particularly useful in times of crisis and upheaval.

This GREW Project Learning Community session will provide a brief overview of evaluative thinking and a series of reflective questions that can help participants start to think evaluatively.. Participants will work with each other, in both small and large groups, to practice using these questions to explore how we are pivoting our programming, how we might refine these strategies, and how we can best use evaluative thinking to keep adapting. The goal is for participants to experience evaluative thinking so they feel inspired and able to implement this process at their organizations. 

Evaluation – Stories from the Field – Learning from Fellow Beginning Farmer Training Organizations
September 18, 2019, 10:30-11:30 PT / 1:30-2:30 ET

How has evaluation served your organization? Come share and listen to stories about how evaluation has really helped or served fellow organizations who train beginning farmers and ranchers. Leave with inspiration and ideas for enhancing the usefulness of evaluation at your organization. Session limit – 40 people. To encourage full participation, this session will not be recorded. Notes will not be provided for this session.