Exploring the needs of urban producers in a rural state

A qualitative needs assessment


  • Catherine E. Sanders University of Georgia https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5787-8752
  • Casandra K. Cox University of Arkansas
  • Leslie D. Edgar New Mexico State University
  • Donna L. Graham University of Arkansas
  • Amanda G. Philyaw Perez Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas System




Urban Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, Local Food, Needs Assessment, Sustainability


Urban farming is a phenomenon rising in popular­ity across the United States. Investigating the needs of urban farmers in a predominately rural state is important in informing future programming and technical assistance for these clients. This qualita­tive study used semi-structured, in-depth interviews that investigated the perceptions, needs, and expe­riences of Arkansas urban farmers and their inter­actions with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Inter­views were conducted with 16 urban farmers in Northwest and Central Arkansas. The interview data revealed highly individualized needs based on the operation size, years in operation, and mission of each urban farmer interviewed. While needs var­ied, some were consistent, such as market pricing, co-ops, and access to appropriate equipment.  Par­ticipants also revealed a positive perception of Extension, though they cited that the organization did not always have resources specific to small-scale, sustainable farming. Building from the Com­munity Food System Development Framework for Change and informed by the AgroEcological-Educator theory, this study provides urban farm­ers’ insights and contextualizes urban farming in a predominately rural, southern state. Potential remains for increased collaboration and communi­cation between Arkansas urban farmers and Exten­sion. This article demonstrates the diverse needs of Arkansas urban farmers, which can be used by Extension and sustainable agriculture experts to inform research about urban and sustainable farmers in their respective states.


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Author Biographies

Catherine E. Sanders, University of Georgia

M.S.; Depart­ment of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Commu­nication

Casandra K. Cox, University of Arkansas

M.S.; Department of Agricultural Edu­cation, Communications and Technology

Leslie D. Edgar, New Mexico State University

Ph.D.; College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences

Donna L. Graham, University of Arkansas

Ph.D.; Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Amanda G. Philyaw Perez, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas System

 DrPH; Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas System, Division of Agricul­ture



How to Cite

Sanders, C., Cox, C., Edgar, L., Graham, D., & Philyaw Perez, A. (2021). Exploring the needs of urban producers in a rural state: A qualitative needs assessment. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(1), 99–113. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.111.004

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