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COG distributing survey on outreach, training

January 21, 2013, Ottawa, Ont – Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St Lawrence – Outaouais Chapter (COG OSO) is distributing a new survey for any farmer to respond to.

The survey is an effort by COG OSO to understand how to best deliver its farmer outreach and training programming to non-organic farmers interested in organic methods as well as existing organic farmers. Funding for the survey is part of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to COG OSO’s Growing Up Organic Project.

The general purpose of the survey is to find out from farmers what they think the role of an organization such as COG OSO should be and how COG OSO should execute that role. The survey does this by firstly trying to understand what motivates farmers to farm organically as well as what deters farmers from transitioning to organic. Secondly, the survey asks about the effectiveness of different training methods such as workshops and webinars. Finally, the survey asks farmers about specific resources, approaches and partnerships that could benefit the local organic sector and move it to the next stage of development.

“I strongly believe in participatory approaches to development,” says Colin Lundy, farmer outreach coordinator for COG OSO. “I think the farmers should be telling COG OSO directly what we should be doing, and this new survey is a way for them to do just that.”

Farmers’ input will give COG OSO strategic direction when applying for funding and seeking partnerships for new projects.

“Project success is, in my view, largely measured by farmer support,” Lundy said. “Farmers are more interested in participating in projects and seeing them to a successful completion if they were consulted in the conception of the project in first place.”

Lundy said farmers should think of the survey as a consultation, asking farmers what future COG OSO projects should be.

Non-organic farmers are also encouraged to participate since COG OSO wants to know what changes would inspire them to consider organic production more seriously. The survey is intended for farmers in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, where COG OSO operates, but respondents from other regions are still welcome as all input is useful.

“This is our first survey since 2008,” added Lundy. “The past few years have seen a lot of changes within both the organic farming sector and the non-profit sector. Organic and would-be organic farmers need resources and assistance to reach that next level of development. However, funding resources are scarcer, and there are more farmer oriented organizations now competing for those resources.”

The survey is online and open to all farmers regardless of scale and production methods. Find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/cog-oso-farmer-needs-2013 until March 31, 2013. After the survey is closed, three respondents will be selected at random to receive a free gift from COG; either a subscription to the magazine – The Canadian Organic Grower – or one of the organization’s practical handbooks publications.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Colin Lundy, farmer outreach coordinator at COG OSO by emailing colin@cog.ca or calling 613-493-0020.