Since 2017, JG has served as the external evaluator for National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)’s sustainable agriculture program, known as ATTRA. JG continues to support ATTRA by offering evaluation expertise and support to the program, collecting and analyzing workshop, webinar, and resource evaluations, and synthesizing evaluation results in an annual report that is used to help NCAT leverage continued congressional support and funding for ATTRA.

Over the past year, JG has also expanded our work with NCAT with two exciting new programs: Soil for Water in the Southeast, funded by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Evaluation (SSARE), and Preparing a Resilient Future: Beginning Farmer and Rancher Training for Organic Field Crop and Livestock Producers in the Northern Great Plains, funded by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Both projects aim to expand the regional adoption of sustainable agricultural practices over the course of three years, with the SSARE-funded project focused on regenerative grazing in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia, and the BFRDP-funded project focused on organic field cropping and livestock production in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. JG will serve as the external evaluator and provide insight and expertise on relevant sociological methodology for both three-year projects. 

An image from one of the state knowledge systems maps

A key aspect of the SSARE project is the operationalization of a systems thinking approach to understanding the barriers and unique organizational and cultural contexts that contribute to the low adoption rate of regenerative grazing, in order to meaningfully and effectively expand adoption in each state. As part of this systems thinking approach, the JG team recently facilitated a digital knowledge systems mapping process (using the digital platform Miro) with each of the multistakeholder state working groups participating in the SSARE project. These digital maps helped to describe the current state of the regenerative grazing system in each state by visually capturing key stakeholders and their relationships to one another and regenerative grazing, the primary resources available to producers, and the barriers to adoption of regenerative grazing. The maps will be used to help each working group identify the necessary steps involved in expanding regenerative grazing in their state as well as an evaluation tool. At the conclusion of the grant period, JG will repeat the same knowledge mapping process to assess the project’s outcomes and to identify possible systemic shifts.