- OSU Extension provides important educational services to members of the agricultural community. Programming options can be guided by needs assessment surveys, which are used to determine gaps in knowledge and understanding for communities. The objective of this study was to develop and execute a survey to gather information on: 1) small farm characteristics, 2) agricultural education needs and challenges, 3) small farmer research interests, and 4) communication preferences for small farmers throughout the mid-Willamette Valley. A fifth objective to evaluate methodology for determining typologies was established during data analysis. Twenty-four farmers participated: 12 in-person, 2 by phone, and 10 online. Conventional farming techniques were practiced by 16 farmers, while 8 practiced organic methods. Educational programs of interest were “soil fertility and plant nutrition”, “pollinators”, and “habitat for beneficial insects”. Self-identified research interests included “weeds, viruses, and pests”. Preferences for communication were “email” and “e-newsletter”, while “OSU Publications” was the most preferred Extension resource. This information, when used by Extension, can help better serve the needs of the small farmer community within Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley, and can serve as a method for increasing relationships with small farmers.
- Key Words: small farms, Extension, needs assessment, agricultural education