We’ve used this Framework for ensuring we are comprehensive in our farm evaluation:
Framing Questions 1
Are precipitation and groundwater resources captured, stored, used and released in a safe, stable and sustainable manner?
What are water sources and quality of water source?
Are water losses to runoff and evaporation in balance with soil and plant resources (Determine a water budget)?
Are irrigation waters efficiently and timely in use?
Are perennial stream flows, ground water aquifers, and water storage reservoir volumes stable (within natural or acceptable range of variability)?
Framing Questions 2
What are the major soil types?
What is the general texture of the surface soil?
Is the texture likely to make soils unstable if vegetative cover is removed?
Are there hydric soils on the parcel? How many and are they being farmed?
Is the land surface of sufficient steepness to cause erosion and management concerns?
Does the land have a general aspect toward a specific compass point?
Framing Questions 3
Are kinds and flows of chemicals (minerals, nutrients, etc.) in balance and appropriate for native plant and animal communities?
Are nutrients and/or minerals being lost from the system?
Are nutrients and/or minerals accumulating in the system?
Framing Questions 4
Are pest populations being held in check by predators?
Are native/desired species being damaged by predators?
Has human intervention substituted for natural predation in pest control?
Are crop losses above acceptable economic limits?
Is there evidence of environmental/ecological recovery without human intervention?
Is there evidence of recovery with human intervention?
Are soil parameters within ranges sufficient to allow recovery from stresses?
Is recovery impaired due to species competition?
Are managed species varied by land use and crop management in order to minimize risk of catastrophic loss (crop arrangement, crop rotation, crop integration)?
Is there sufficient genetic variation in the managed species to minimize risk of catastrophic loss?
Is there a sufficient soil seed bank to revegetate disturbed areas?
Framing Questions 5
Does farmer’s enterprise contain a diverse source of income?
Does current management system allow farm to remain competitive?
Does the farmer have latitude in making decisions about management or do others control those choices?
Does the farmer have a profitable economy?
Framing Questions 6
Are their documented harmful health effects from management methods?
Are their health risks from the types and methods of application of agrichemicals?
Are their broader community health risks from farm management?
Framing Questions 7
What are the regional trends in farm ownership?
What are the trends in development patterns?
What are community land uses?
Are there zoning restrictions?
What is the distribution of vegetative types in the county/community?
To what extent is farm/community vegetation fragmented?
Do the political borders correspond with ecological, economic, social and institutional boundaries?
Framing Questions 8
What regional markets are in place?
What products are supported?
What commodity programs are in place to support markets?
Framing Question 9
What nutrient profiles are possible given the property’s agro-ecology?
How do those nutrient profiles ‘fit’ with local and regional nutritional needs and eating habits?
What adaptations are possible to enhance nutrient profiles?
What adaptations are possible to diversify nutrient profiles if desirable?
Framing Questions 10
What types of community institutions exists to make decisions on land use, management and protection?
What civic and community groups exist?
What percentage of the community participates in elections, meetings, and hearings?
Does the community have a land use planning process?
What is the kind and nature of community government?
Are there land and water growth management plans?
What are the kinds and frequency of local cultural activities?
What is the history of successful citizen/community initiatives?
Framing Questions 11
How effective and efficient are modes of transportation and communication?
Are the health, education, and banking facilities distributed for broad use?
What structures are in place to promote a healthy local food supply?