Many thanks to the people who gave me information on where to find case
studies of organic farms. There is a lot more out there than I thought! I
hope I get the same sort of enthusiastic response from prospective students
as I did from you.
Following are all the answers I received. Apologies for cross posting to
those of you who are on both Sanet and Saed.
Univ. of Kentucky
Victoria, I've used a couple of videos on organic ag. in classes, and
asked students to identify specific practices being used, their
environmental advantages, and what they replace or make unnecessary in
more typical farming systems. "My Father's Garden" (Bullfrog Films) has
considerable detail on Fred Kirschenmann's farm. "The Greening of Cuba"
(Food First) discusses the forced transition from use of pesticides and
other imported inputs to a more closed system. Both films have pretty
strong political/ethical subtexts---personally I like this, because it
sets the stage for some useful discussions on values in agriculture and
the trade-offs involved in ag. transitions. But this might not be
appropriate for your class.
I don't have much right here but the NOFA Video Project based here in
Massachusetts has videos of some case studies, such as the Nordell farm in
PA where they use horses as traction on a 15-acre (I think) vegetable
farm. If you're interested you should call or write Jack Kittredge, 411
Sheldon Rd., Barre, MA (don't have the zip right now but you can look it
up), 978-355-2853, JACKKITT@aol.com. I actually haven't heard much about
the NOFA Video Project in a year or two but I'm pretty sure it's still
going on, and I'm pretty sure Jack is still the person to contact.
Good luck. - Rob Fetter
The Sustainable Foods Center published a short, nicely designed book called
"Growing Smart" in 1995 which included detailed case studies of four
organic producers in Texas.
The producers were as follows:
* cotton and mixed grains (4000 acres)
* citrus and mixed vegetables (250 acres)
* cotton, beef and mixed vegetables (187 acres)
* beef and lamb (32,000+ acres)
"Growing Smart" is available from Kate Fitzgerald at the Sustainable Food
Center in Austin Texas (512/385-0080).
Victoria, My Master's thesis "Farmers in Transition: Exploring Learning
Approaches to Sustainable Agriculture through Narratives" has 12 narratives
of farmers from around New York state. These might be helpful because they
are quite diverse and farmers tell what motivated their transitions - from
differing perspectives. The farmers talk a lot about production practices,
marketing, trouble shooting, how they network with other farmers and where
they get their information. Let me know if you'd like a copy. (I have
extras). Kim Leval firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Steve Diver, we met at the Sare-Austin conference.
Fyi, I think you will find the Master's Thesis just
completed (May '98) by my colleague at ATTRA,
Radhika Balasubrahmanyam, to be an excellent new addition
to the literature.
"Small is Still Beautiful: How Sustainable Agriculture is
Helping Arkansas and Missouri Farmers Stay in Business"
is 124-pages long with 16-pages containing color photo
The thesis is a case study of 5 farms in Arkansas-Missouri,
three farms are organic and two farms emphasize sustainable. Three
case studies discuss grazing and animal production and the last
two case studies focus on organic market gardening.
For more information, call Radhika Bala at ATTRA at
501-442-9824 or send her an email at: email@example.com
The ATTRA Resource Center also has a number of case
studies. If you'd like, I can submit a request on your behalf
asking for at least a partial list of references.
After your class compiles a bibliography or curriculum, I'd
appreciate receiving a copy.
SARE funded a case study of an organic farm in Wisconsin -- the Krusenbaum
organic dairy -- in 1990. Joshua Posner of UWM was the principal
investigator. However, you may want to contact Michele Gale-Sinex at the Ctr
for Sust Ag Systems at UWM. You may have her email ... but it is
gale-sinex@AAE.WISC.EDU if you don't. I would be happy to send you the SARE
report we received on that project, but Michele may have better-packaged
information on the case study. Let me know if you'd like a copy of the report.
Lisa Bauer firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Victoria. The following two publications from Cornell's Farming
Alternatives Program include case studies of organic and transitional
Hilchey et al. 1996. Horticultural innovators: Case Studies of Seven
Entrepreneurial Growers in New York State.
Welsh, Rick. 1993. Practical, Profitable and Sustainable: Innovative
Management Strategies on Four NYS Dairy Farms.
Information about these and other FAP publications can be found at our
Also the book The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell About Organic and Low-Input
Practices in the Northeast, is available from NE Region SARE at University
of Vermont and includes many case studies.
Karen Klonsky, a UC Davis Extension Economist, produces Cost of Production
studies for several crops grown in California. These studies are available
for purchase at a nominal fee to cover copying and shipping costs. Several
of these studies are on organically grown crops. To view the list of
studies, visit the web site at:
Information on ordering is also available at this web site.
Those studies with reference numbers ending in -01 or -02 are on organic
systems. Although they are not actually case studies, these crop budgets
provide an economic analysis which may be useful information to you.
Agricultural and Resource Economics
University of California
Davis, CA. 95616
Southern SAWG has put out 3 booklets that all include case studies
of farmers who are farming more sustainably. Several stories
in each booklet feature farmers who are certified organic. Other
stories feature farmers who are in transition.
*FARMING MORE SUSTAINABLY ON THE FARM,
Vols I & II: Farmers' Stories*, edited by Keith Richards and
Susan Drouilhet. Farmers and ranchers throughout the
South are developing processes for ecological, economic,
and social sustainability on their land. These booklets
discuss the innovative production techniques, resource
management, and marketing strategies of 21 sustainable ag
pioneers. Cost: $9.50 for Vol I, $12.00 for Vol II, or $17.50
for both Vols (includes shipping and handling).
*MAKING IT ON THE FARM: Increasing Sustainability
Through Value-added Processing and Marketing*, by Keith
Richards and Deborah Wechsler. Written for farmers who
want to take a bite out of the middlemen by bringing the
dollars for processing, packaging, labeling, and marketing
home to their farms, and for rural community leaders who
want to encourage farm-based value-added businesses in
their communities. This booklet, compiled from interviews
with Southern farmers and ranchers, includes stories of
several farmers who are adding value to their farm
products, a discussion of 10 keys to success for farm-based
value-added operations, and a list of resources. Cost:
$12.00 (includes shipping and handling)
SOUTHERN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
WORKING GROUP (SSAWG)
P.O. Box 324
Elkins, AR 72727-0324
Contact the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and order their
back-issues of Farmer-to-Farmer Magazine. The magazine is
discontinued, but while it existed, it published perhaps 12-15 case
studies which even compared the costs of producing the crop
organically to conventional production costs. CAFF's number is
916-756-8518. These are all California case studies.
Calfiornia Certified Organic Farmers ( CCOF)
Have you seen the book by National Academy of Sciences National Research
Alternative Agfriculture. It was published in 1989 by Academy Press. Part
2 contains a dozen case studies you
may find interesting.
I was the principle author and editor of Part 2, but it's pretty good
anyway. Contains case studies such as the
Pavich table grape operation, now over 3,000 acres and growing. Also Wayne
Ferrari near Stockton and
the Lundbergs organic rice. etc. I also did chapter 4 on lthe econ of alt
Also contact Gwen Roland at the Southern region SARE office. Ask for her
annual report. Great stuff for your purpose.
Her email address is email@example.com
I would recommend checking out the work in Biointensive farming going on at
the Ecology Action project in Willits, CA. They are not just organic, but
uniquely productive, low-input, and sustainable. There are other places doing
Biointensive (Ohio University, U of Arizona...) but Ecology Action is the
foundation for the science.
They can be contacted at 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490-9730.
I would also recommend checking out a Biodynamic farm in your area and looking
at that field of organics. You can find one perhaps through the Biodynamic
Association of America on the internet. (www.biodynamics.com)
Hope this helps
I hope all is well. This new plan sounds great.
In addition to Kim's work, I like Rick Welsh's rural soc/economics Cornell
dissertation which contains 3 or 4 detailed case studies of farms in
transition, including an organic dairy in NY. I think the dissertation
abstracts would have it -- but his name is Joseph R. Welsh for publication
purposes, so look under that, or under 1995 with "sustainable" in the title
I've taught as a Teaching Assistant, Lab Instructor and Lecturer at Ohio
University's Biointensive Mini-Farming credit course. I've been teaching
farmers our integrated system through workshops that were established by a
educational grant for 3 years. Is this what you're looking for?
We have a CSA of 30 families and grow their vegetables and ours plus 4
apprentices in 1/4 acre. About 8 times more productive than a study of
Southeastern CSAs done by Deborah Kane at the University of Georgia.
I'm glad to hear someone is teaching how to grow organically at a
the Southeast. Keep up the good work!
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