I'm looking for references on methods of evaluating the relative sustainability of individual farms. I am working with a California farmers' market that is seeking to define and increase its commitment to sustainability, and we will clearly need some sense of where we are, where we're going, and how to measure our progress.
We would like to be able to roughly characterize the sustainability our particular group of farms, as well as any single farm in the group. The analysis would give a sense of how far along the spectrum from conventional to ideally sustainable a set of practices is, given the region and crop type and other on-farm conditions. Over time, it would give us a sense of the progress being made by individual farms and the market as a whole towards a more sustainable agriculture.
We will not have the resources to collect, analyze, and verify vast quantities of information, so a truly comprehensive quantitative approach is not an option, in addition to having dubious merit. We can ask farmers to answer detailed survey-style questions about their farm practices and philosophies, and we can visit farms to verify data where necessary.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who has created a similar assessment tool, or who knows of relevant resources or references.
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