Oregonian’s Personal Connections to Farming

How are Oregonians interacting or involving themselves with with local farms, nurserys, gardens, ranches, farmers markets, etc.?

From May 26 – June 5, 2023, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ attitudes and behavior related to farming and agriculture. This included differences in feelings about small-scale farms and large-scale commercial or industrial farms. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below. A Spanish version of the questionnaire was developed for the study in partnership with Rural Development Initiatives. The values and beliefs of Spanish-speaking Oregonians are included in the findings. 

This highlights memo summarizes key findings for questions related to Oregonians’ personal connections with farming and agriculture. Other memos concerning agriculture include the values and beliefs Oregonians have about farming/agriculture, U.S. agricultural subsidies, and the semantics and imagery Oregonians associate with farming and agriculture.  

The question numbers in this document correspond with the accompanying annotated questionnaire and tabs. Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add up to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs. 

Included below for selected questions are noteworthy subgroup variations for BIPOC/white, age, urban/rural, education, gender, and households with and without children. The accompanying set of tabs notes subgroup variations for all the questions. 

OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability. 

For full survey question wording, all statistically significant subgroup findings, and respondent quotes, readers are encouraged to refer to the accompanying documents: (1) annotated questionnaire, (2) crosstabulations document, and (3) verbatim written responses spreadsheet. 

Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC): This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. OVBC is an independent and non-partisan organization and an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation. Representative OVBC projects include opinion research about race-based crimes for the Asian Health and Service Center, as well as research about early childhood education and the cost of childcare for the Children’s Institute. 

Personal Connections to Farming/Agriculture

  • Oregonians are most commonly connected to farming and agriculture through friends or family members who are involved in farming (29%) or occasional visits to farms (29%) (Q57). 
    • 19% of respondents stated they do not have any ties to farms, farmers, or farming. A similar proportion of respondents indicated that they currently live or have lived on a farm.

Visiting a Farm or Attending a Farm-Related Event

  • Most Oregonians who visited a farm in the past year were there to purchase fruits or vegetables (54%). Other popular reasons for farm visits include attending special events like weddings and festivals (27%), visiting pumpkin patches (27%), purchasing Christmas trees (23%), and interacting with farm animals (22%) (Q56).  
    • Other reasons specified by respondents include shopping at farmers’ markets, visiting family farms, and living on farms.

Gardening as Farming-Related

  • When asked about cultivating plants where they live, more than 40% of respondents indicate they grow vegetables for their consumption. 38% of respondents say they tend to an outdoor landscape of some sort. 26% express an interest in gardening despite not being active gardeners. Only 12% of respondents have no interest in gardening.  

Summation Quotes

Amaury Vogel, Associate Executive Director: 

  • “Around a third of respondents feel connected to farming through close family and friends involved in the industry. Many others who lack personal ties to farms still visit occasionally. On the other hand, a fifth of respondents have no personal connections to farms, farming, and agriculture.”  
  • “Oregonians engage with agriculture, farming, and farms in various ways. The primary reason people give for visiting farms is to purchase fruits and vegetables. At least one in every five Oregonians has been to a farm in the past year to attend a special event, visit a pumpkin patch, purchase a Christmas tree, and/or interact with farm animals.”  
  • “When it comes to personal cultivation, a substantial number of Oregonians grow vegetables for their consumption. Others tend to outdoor landscapes or express an interest in gardening despite a lack of active involvement. Only a small minority have no interest in gardening.” 

Methodology: The online survey consisted of 2,333 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and the data was weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education. 

Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample is ±2.03%. Due to rounding or multiple-answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.  

For More Information:

OVBC May-June 2023 Survey_Annotated Questionnaire_ Agriculture(1).docx 

OVBC May-June 2023 Survey_Tabs_Agriculture.pdf