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OSU Extension Survey: What you said

If you happened to be at the River City Farmers Market this past June 12, there’s a good chance you completed a survey handed to you by someone from our local Ohio State University Extension Office. You may be interested to know what kind of results came out of that survey and what 300 participants had to say about gardening, nutrition, horticulture education and the farmers market. If so, read on.

The survey was a project of the Washington County Ohio State University Extension Office funded by a grant from the Nonprofits L.E.A.D. program at Marietta College.

As explained by local OSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator Marcus McCartney in the June 8 edition of the Marietta Times, “The mission of OSU Extension is to try to address the needs and improve the lives of Ohioans, and how do we know what programs people need and want if we don’t ask?”

Who Answered

Our Questions?

Gardeners galore! More than half (53%) of survey respondents say they’ve been gardening for more than ten years. In fact, a whopping 80% of people completing the survey said they’ve been gardening for at least two years. Surveys were completed mostly by females at the market (71%). Household count covered a total of 658 people reported in all survey responses, including 155 children.

What You Said About

Home Gardening

To get an idea of what stops people from getting involved in gardening, the survey listed possible barriers. Respondents said, for them, the three main barriers to gardening are not enough time (47%), not enough space (35%) and not enough knowledge (24%). All respondents consider gardening to be a healthy activity and 95% agreed it is a fun experience. Respondents said their home gardening plans were prompted by attempts to increase family nutrition (74%), because growing their own food helps offset the family food budget (68%) and by COVID-19 (63%).

What You Said

About Nutrition

Many (91%) said your family eats nutritious food and 88% said they need to increase their family’s intake of fruits and vegetables. A high percentage (78%) considers fresh fruits and vegetables expensive to buy. More than half (68%) do not agree that their family lacks access to nutritious food.

What You

Want to Learn

In order to identify areas of interest that can be developed into local programs, workshops or literature, the survey asked for your interest in learning more about horticulture and gardening. The top five requests for more information, workshops or both were for organic gardening (45%), gardening basics (44%), pesticides (40%), soil testing (39%) and soils (39%).

What You Said About

Young Gardeners

Overwhelmingly, 98% of respondents said that OSU Extension should focus on youth programs and 58% said they would be willing to enroll a youth in a horticulture program. A wide variety of suggestions were given when asked for topics youth should be taught. Basic gardening showed up often in your responses along with the importance of self sustainability, nutritional and health benefits and responsible growing.

Your Thoughts

on the Farmers Market

When asked which items respondents purchase at the River City Farmers Market, 81% said they buy agriculture products such as meat, milk, flowers and produce. Baked goods (bread, desserts, etc.) are purchased by 70% of survey respondents and 37% purchase crafts. A small percentage (3%) said they purchase other things such as soap, canned goods or whatever catches their eye.

When asked to identify what’s most important as a farmers market customer, 84% cited support of local farms and businesses followed by 82% who said buying fresh produce was important. Sixty-three percent rated the friendly atmosphere as important and 41% said unique homemade items are important to them. Being able to ask a vendor or farmer questions was important to 33% and another 31% said establishing relationships with vendors is important.

More than half of respondents (60%) said they frequent River City Farmers Market either every week or 2-3 times a month. Forty people (15%) said they were there for the first time on June 12. Twenty-five percent are at the market once a month or less.

Something new that people would like to see at the market would be music and benches to sit on while enjoying that music with food. A cheese vendor was a popular request as were requests for kids’ booths, workshops and demonstrations.

Given the opportunity to rate vendors on a scale of great to poor, respondents gave high marks for vendors’ friendliness, their knowledge and booth appearance. Both easy to find product information and vendors’ pricing were mostly rated great or good. No vendors’ attribute received a poor rating.

Conclusions

Survey analysis and remarks shared through open ended questions provide a starting point for the wants and needs of local gardeners to be met through planned programs and projects of our Extension Office. While our area boasts people with many years of gardening experience, there is always a desire for more knowledge.

The highly rated River City Farmers Market is one venue to consider in providing some of the educational opportunities for local gardeners.

Perhaps with benches where people can sit as they learn with a little music in the background.

Judy Verdi is retired and lives in Marietta. She trained to become an OSU Master Gardener Volunteer in 2014 and, after seven years, is amazed at how much there still is to learn.

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