Ohio State University Extension; produce auctions; agricultural communications; agriculture education; programming


This study (1) describes the characteristics of Ohio Amish and Mennonite produce farmers and their operations; (2) determines awareness of and participation in OSU Extension programs by Amish and Mennonite produce farmers; (3) determines the methods used by Amish and Mennonite produce farmers to acquire farming information; and (4) identifies subject matter needs of Amish and Mennonite produce farmers for future Extension programming. In order to provide effective future Extension programming efforts for this particular clientele, a mail survey was used to collect data from 345 Ohio Amish and Mennonite farmers who participate at Ohio produce auctions. They were asked to describe their preferred means of communication and their informational and educational needs. Key findings from this study were that interpersonal contact was the method most used by Amish and Mennonite produce farmers; they are relatively uninvolved in other Ohio farm or government organizations beyond Extension; they prefer personalized, individual attention; they obtain farming information from a variety of sources including Extension bulletins, newsletters, newspaper or magazine articles, farm/home/field visits, and field days/demonstrations; and they seldom use the internet as a resource for produce farming information. Production issues were rated as the most needful information; examples include disease management, insect management, and soil fertility. This indicates that many farmers still need basic production information. Since 26% of Ohio Amish and Mennonite produce farmers have been engaged in farming ten years or less, an opportunity exists for Extension or other service providers to educate farmers and provide needed information to help less experienced farmers become successful produce farmers. [Abstract by author.]


Thanks to Dr. Robert Agunga, Associate Professor and Dr. Garee W. Earnest, Professor Emeritus for serving on this research committee.