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Data collection tool can help organic market gardeners maximise profitability

6 November 2019

Garden hand tools

A data collection tool can enable organic market gardeners gather and process information that can help them make informed business decisions and maximise profitability, a report from a workshop facilitated by Sustainable Places Research Institute Research Fellow Dr Hannah Pitt has concluded.

The OMG Data! tool is intended to help gather and process information on growers’ operations, then benchmark it with peers. After piloting the tool with 10 organic market gardeners over the growing season, the tool will be refined, then shared.

Supported by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account grant through Cardiff University, the workshop with the participants of the pilot was an opportunity to explore issues regarding data collection, its importance, and why it can be so difficult for this type of business.

Feedback from the participants highlighted:

  • Organic market gardeners know the importance of good data, but can struggle to collect it.
  • Time pressures are the main barrier to collecting data, and are exacerbated by lack of off-the-shelf systems to make it easy to collect the right information or establish habits of record keeping.
  • Better data is expected to help growers make informed business decisions and maximise profitability.
  • The complexity and variety of these businesses means any data tools need to be informed by insight to their operations, and flexible to accommodate variation or unforeseen events.
  • There is an appetite to gather and share a range of information on the outputs from small scale organic food growers, to demonstrate the sector’s contribution to public goods.

A report from the workshop concluded that wider adoption of data collection tools by organic market gardeners will likely require them to be as simple and efficient as possible, and accompanied by clear articulation of the benefits of good data.

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