Published in American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Vol. 14 No. 1 (March 1999) at doi: 10.1017/S0889189300007955


This research promotes our understanding of organic farmers' decisionmaking through individual farmers' experiences. A twofold survey was conducted to investigate characteristics of certified organic farmers in Colorado. Data from a mail survey (26 responses to 49 surveys sent) reveal patterns of farm operations and attitudes among this group of farmers. These questionnaires focused on land use, land tenure, operational change, and personal characteristics. In-depth interviews of five case study farmers provide additional insight into farmers' agricultural decisionmaking. These interviews were conversations that the farmers guided toward topics of relevance to them. Taken together, the mail and interview surveys provided information about on-farm operational factors and personal characteristics. Quantitative analysis and qualitative data reduction techniques were used to identify factors in organic farmer decisionmaking. The following eight factors help us understand organic agriculture in this region: diversity, challenge, change, businesslike approach, no formal agricultural education, love of the land, anti-”radical environmentalist,” and obstacles.