A Qualitative Exploration of Entrepreneurial Learning among Local Farmers in Cochise County, Arizona
AuthorZamudio, Jessica Maria
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe number of farmers markets in the United States increased from 3,706 in 2004 to 8,268 in 2014 (Agriculture Marketing Service, 2014). Often times, small-scale agricultural producers do not harvest enough goods to be sold in large grocery store corporations and thus have turned to farmers' markets, roadside stands, you-pick operations, and community supported agriculture (CSA) shares as pathways for reaching customers directly (Chase & Winn, 1981; Payne, 2002). The purpose of this study was to explore and describe how such small-scale producers who participate in farmers' markets gain and develop business-related information and business skills. A single case study design developed and applied to explore the entrepreneurial learning environment relevant to small-scale agricultural producers in Cochise County, Arizona. The current study is framed conceptually by Politis's (2005) entrepreneurial learning model. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews, observations, and relevant documents. Data was organized and analyzed both ideographically and nomothetically. The findings indicate that some small-scale agricultural producers who reside in Cochise County, Arizona participate in Southern Arizona farmers' markets for economic viability and/or lifestyle reasons. The producers who participate in Southern Arizona farmers' markets as their sole means of generating income and/or to continue to be able to afford their engagement in agricultural activities were categorized under the economic viability theme. Those producers who participate in Southern Arizona farmers' market primarily to socialize and to exchange knowledge with community members and other farmers or ranchers were categorized under the lifestyle theme. The data also revealed that the participants engaged in entrepreneurial learning primarily within informal settings and through corresponding channels. While, informal learning is likely to remain the primary method of knowledge sharing across the small-scale agricultural producer community in Cochise County, Arizona. However, by providing such producers with greater opportunities to develop deeper and more robust knowledge and skills specific to entrepreneurship and small business development and management through non-formal learning opportunities (e.g., innovative Extension program), the number of producers with enhanced training capacities and cutting edge knowledge will increase across Cochise County.
Degree ProgramGraduate College