Field trip essay

According to authors Sunstein and Chiseri-Strater, “Fieldworkers investigate the cultural landscape, the larger picture of how a culture functions: its rituals, its rules, its traditions, and its behaviors. And they poke around the edges at the stories people tell, the items people collect and value, and the materials people use to go about their daily living. By learning from people in a culture what it is like to be part of their world, fieldworkers discover a culture’s way of being, knowing, and understanding” (4).

The term fieldworker has different meaning in agriculture than is does in research, but for this assignment you will merge the definitions. You should be going out into the “field,”  Choose a research site–a Gardeners’ or Farmers’ Market, a round-up, a county or state fair, or any other event or site with farming or agricultural roots, and take a field trip.  To complete your own primary research – in other words fieldwork – prepare yourself in the following ways:

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  • Put on your agricultural lenses
  • Think about farmer / rancher perspective and be thoughtful of that perspective
  • Consider any ethical concerns. Your interviews, observations, or surveys should in no way harm (emotionally, physically, or mentally) anyone you come in contact with. In other words,  prepare to get permission before you publish anyone’s information, especially photographs.

REQUIREMENTS:  This assignment consists of two parts.

Part ONE: You must collect primary research by conducting interviews with farmers, ranchers, growers, and / or booth workers at a Farmer’s Market or county or state fair. ( its better if that in Utah State )

  • Several photographs of the event or location you attended
  • Field notes that answer the questions on the worksheet  ( you will find it in attachment file )
  • A partial word-for-word transcription of the answers to questions that are especially pertinent to your essay.
  • At least 2 hours worth of fieldwork
  • All of this information will be uploaded to the essay.

Part TWO: You will write an essay (5-7 pgs.) about a narrowed part of the field work that especially interested you. For example, you might be interested in grass-fed beef, so you might write about a booth or several booths at a Farmer’s Market that sold grass-fed beef. You could analyze the marketing and rhetorical techniques used by the farmer / seller at a market or food stand, or who run a business from their farm, including visual rhetoric. You could discuss the processes that farmers go through to participate in a show or fair, to get the beef ready to sell, methods for shipment and payment; relationships the grower has to consistent customers, when and why the farmer began selling at the market, what the results have been, etc. You could discuss what it takes to plant a field or participate in a round-up and analyze this event both as it relates to agriculture and as it relates to farming / ag culture.

Look at the way the event was publicized (if it was) and how the actual event matched the advertising or how it was different. Think about the way the event changes views and perceptions re: farm / farmers / agriculture. Interview attendees about their experience. How “real” is the event? 

You will analyze all of the  information about your narrowed topic and discuss how it applies to you specifically, to our local culture, and to our larger society. Make connections to themes and specific texts from class. Make sure to give your essay a great title.


Any organized farmers’ market or gardeners’ market works as a legitimate market to attend for this assignment. (If you choose to attend the state fair, you will have to modify the questions from the worksheet, but ask the same types of questions and answer the same number of questions.) ( it will be better if that in Utah State )

You can do a field trip with a farmer / rancher / grower that you know or that someone you know can put you in contact with. 


Sunstein, Bonnie Stone and Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater. “Stepping In and Stepping Out: Understanding Cultures.” FieldWorking: Reading and Writing Research. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2007.  1-63. Print

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