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From the field: A participatory approach to assess labor inputs on organic diversified vegetable farms in the Upper Midwestern USA

  • E.M. Silva (a1), J. Hendrickson (a2), P.D. Mitchell (a3) and E. Bietila (a4)

Consumer interest in locally grown produce continues to increase in the USA. Small, diversified vegetable farms, including those managed organically, have been important contributors to meet this growing demand for local product. To be profitable in these markets, farmers must be able to appropriately price their products to cover production costs and provide themselves and their employees a living wage. Questions remain, however, as to the most effective method of assessing the cost of production of specific crops on these farms, in part due to the variability in labor inputs associated with diversified farming strategies. This study used a participatory approach to investigate both methodologies for varied widely, with high coefficients of variation calculated for all values, indicating high farm-to-farm variability in labor required for seasonal activities. Farmers reported both challenges with data collection, as well as successes in using data analysis to guide management decisions. This ongoing work highlights the value of collecting farm-specific data for use in cost-of-production determinations.

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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
  • EISSN: 1742-1713
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