Dobbins, C., Edgar, D., Cox, C., Edgar, L., Graham, D., & Perez, A. (2021). Perceptions of Arkansas agriculture county extension agents toward urban agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Education, 62(1), 77-94.

As interest in local food development and urban agriculture increases, the Cooperative Extension
Service is challenged to serve local and urban food communities in Arkansas. Urban farmers in
Arkansas have differing motivations for operation than those in production agriculture, so
understanding agricultural county agents’ perceptions of urban farmers is critical for program
development and implementation in this sector and to bridge any gaps between Extension and urban
producers. This study was conducted to determine the perceptions of, awareness of, ability to assist
with, and barriers to working with urban farmers in Arkansas. An emailed instrument was sent to
Arkansas staff chairs and agricultural county agents and data were analyzed using descriptive
statistics. A total of 57 agents participated in the survey. Responses from agents in more populous
regions of Arkansas were comparatively analyzed to those from less populous regions. Results
indicated agents infrequently interacted with urban farmers in their counties, yet believed Extension
was a valuable resource for urban farmers and that more resources should be allocated to developing
urban farming programming. Respondents also self-identified as having low levels of personal
knowledge relating to urban agriculture, with 72% of respondents indicating they were not
knowledgeable or slightly knowledgeable about urban agriculture. There was a significant difference
between the responses of agents in more populous counties and those in less populous counties. Future
research aims to conduct a similar survey relating to local food in Arkansas, not just urban agriculture.

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