Lesson 4: How can we monitor the effects locally?

Farm-Educator Prep:

  • Review farm monitoring efforts or relevant data collection on farm that could demonstrate climate risk/resilience (e.g. soil tests, planting diagrams, hedgerow establishment, water access and quality).

  • Print out copy of Farm Resilience Plan to fill out between lessons 4 and 6.

  • Visit MESA Climate Resilience for Farmers course site for more ideas/references.


  • Climate Resilient Farm assessment tool- adapted from MESA Climate Resilience for Farmers online course.


  • Warm-up: Students write in journals, then discuss: How do scientists monitor climate change? What examples have you heard of? How do farmers monitor climate change?

    • Key agricultural indicators: Yield, quality, supply/demand interface, water availability/consumption, plant community, insects/biodiversity, soil quality/soil health.

  • Mini Lesson: Forms of monitoring- what is used for data tracking on farms/for farmers? Weather data and evolving climate predictions (from models) of farm-relevant metrics like “chilling hours,” “extreme events index” or “growing degree days,” smart sensors and citizen science projects, farmer networks, observation. Discuss how farmers give and receive information with climate scientists and farm technical advisors (like Cooperative Extension).

  • Activity 1: Walk around the farm and complete the Farm Resilience Plan “ “Vulnerability” and “Adaptive Capacity” tables.

  • Activity 2: Observe water holding capacity of various soil types- collect some samples from farm, and others from nearby locations (or non-cultivated land), and pour water through sample and observe speed with which it flows through. Which has been water holding capacity?  

    • Option: do before/after compost application to notice if there is a significant improvement.

  • Activity 3: Create a climate change monitoring plan or plot for the farm. What will you monitor, how will you collect the data, and what do you expect the changes to be in the future?

  • Wrap-up: Draw in journals where you would set this monitoring plot up on the farm- consider test plots vs. control plots, location of climate farm monitoring plots, type of crop grown in these plots, etc. Share another example of a climate resilient farming assessment- either another local farm that is implementing climate resilience techniques, or could share work of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol that hosted a climate resilience monitoring workshop for California farmers in summer 2018.