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An investigation into the potential for effecting change, delivering advice and supporting Irish Organic Growers through Farmer Field Schools


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Horner, Jason (2010) An investigation into the potential for effecting change, delivering advice and supporting Irish Organic Growers through Farmer Field Schools. Masters thesis, Scottish Agricultural College , Environmental Teaching Group. . [Completed]

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The thesis involved a study of the facilitation in the Field school process of two separate groups of five Organic growers based in the Mid-West (Counties Clare and Galway) and South West(County Cork) of Ireland. The schools took place over a five month period from the middle of November 2009 until the Middle of April 2010. During this period a total of eight Schools were conducted four for each School.
The format was for each participant to host a Field School on their holding attended by the other members of the School. A common goal for the School was decided upon by consensus at thefirst meeting which it was intended would run as a theme through all the Schools of that group.
As well as this, each host communicated an issue that they had had success with and two areas of their business that they had problems with. Included in the format was a comprehensive walk of the host holding and a round table discussion. Towards the end of each School the attendees gavefeedback to the host on the issues that had been raised, giving possible solutions to problems and
finding out better what had made the successes work.
As part of the study three questionnaires were used to investigate the participants’ attitudes to;
 Advice and training
 Working in groups
 Perceived levels of ability
 Preferences for the delivery of information
The questionnaires were given at the start and conclusion of the process as a tool to examine whether the Schools had any impact upon these attitudes. A recording was also made of each School and was then used to transcribe the minutes and any quotes which were felt were relevant to the process.
The results of the study emphasize the lack of advice available to the organic horticultural sector and the need for professional advisors. It also points up how willing growers are to working in groups and the benefits of this type of interaction. The participants’ perceived levels of ability improved over the course of the study and the information gained was deemed to be useful to them.
There was also the social side of meeting on a regular basis with like-minded people. This engendered the beginnings of a sense of community that some felt was missing from the sector.
The Schools proved to be a cost-effective, efficient and enjoyable method of delivering advice and other benefits to organic growers. Further benefits need to be investigated with regard to factors not examined in this study.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Subjects: Crop husbandry
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: UK
UK > Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC - previously SAC)
Deposited By: Clavin, Mr Dan
ID Code:22387
Deposited On:08 Mar 2013 08:49
Last Modified:04 Nov 2013 13:48
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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