The “Gathering” has built a strong coalition of community level leaders, volunteers, and small businesses. Through the coalition’s effort, over 550 entrepreneurs in an eight county region, (six Tennessee Counties and two Kentucky Counties) have been involved. We have identified issues, created community brochures and banners, offered opportunities (meetings, tours and special events) and further developed a community kitchen to enhance and sustain businesses. There have been ten issues of “Sustainability Makes Cents” Newsletter published. “This is the best newsletter that I have ever received,” said Jerry Martin with Santa’s Place and Tree Farm. The Gathering Library has been created.
Identify and Prioritize Issues Facing Homestead Businesses
County Extension Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Staff will identify and prioritize issues facing area homestead businesses, entrepreneurs, organic and other growers wanting to process foods in Montgomery County and 5 Tennessee and 2 Kentucky Counties that join us. The project will encourage and foster a sustainable community where individual families can benefit from economic development. Rather than duplicating efforts, we will work together as a coalition, sharing ideas and responsibilities. County Extension FCS Agent will act as the lead representative in the planning and implementation of a two year initiative, working closely with multiple partners to secure additional training for Agents, create a coalition, and increasing awareness of the issues as well as funding needs. Project Partners will include representatives from the surrounding County Extension Agriculture/Family Consumer Science/Youth staff, Tennessee State University Small Farm Agent, Five Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Council, County Community Resource and Development Committee, Environmental Advisory, Austin Peay State University/Small Business Development Center, Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperation, Family and Community Education Organization, Smith Trahern Mansion, Director of Clarksville Office of Housing and Community Development, County Government representative, Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Herb, Organic and other small producers. We will see that they have the opportunity to build close relationships with others who are working on similar or related ideas with an opportunity to create marketing for multiple products. We will educate about food safety certification, regulatory requirements, marketing, packaging, insurance, product development, requirements for organic and other issues of micro food producers. We will encourage product enhancement with the use of regionally grown and organic foods, increase opportunities for area residents to have locally grown, organic and processed food increasingly available. We will further identify the entrepreneurs that have a need to use a community kitchen facility or further develop their domestic kitchen. We will buy one commercial mixer, which is the greatest need of clients identified at this time. These first clients are women and minorities bakers who have limited resources and are not able to build their own commercial kitchens/have reasons that their home kitchen could not be certified at this time. We will keep in contact with micro businesses through group meetings, e-mail, personal contacts and “Sustainability Makes Cents,” a new joint newsletter initiative. We will offer two annual “Gathering Event Days” to showcase products (offer educational programs and where products can be sold), work with program partners to offer sites where local products can be sold and help further develop other markets. Work closely with Homestead businesses we want to increase awareness of the general public and program partners about the safe food, availability of locally grown and processed foods and other products, the economic benefits, local environment and enhancing the quality of life in the local community. We will find a public space and create a resource library for small food and Agriculture based businesses with resources that we already have and secure more information.
1. Secure training of two major cooperators to visit additional food processing kitchens and sites for homestead business promotion and production. There was so much gained from the initial tour of the Jubilee Project’s Clinch Powell Kitchen.
2.Develop 34 additional coalition members to make 50 key leaders working together (with the goal of having 3 or more coalition members per county that would like to join-in, providing opportunities for coalition members to meet together and provide training of these key players and community partners.
3.Locate other interested entrepreneurs, small/organic farmers and people with an interest in homestead economics and promote the “Gathering.” So often a small business may be just on the county or state line and can not participate on the other side of the line. We want to remove barriers by not stopping at the county line, but to extend possibilities for involvement and benefit from the surrounding counties and state.
4.Publish joint newsletter with program partners and surrounding counties called “Sustainability Makes Cents”.
5.Increase the availability of books and computer programs as resources on food safety, food storage, organic and marketing, etc. by creating a small shelf library at a convenient location. By collecting resources that are available at no cost and further sharing books and periodicals.
6.Help people with a micro food or food related processing business idea by holding bi-monthly gatherings of entrepreneurs to network, further develop strategies, receive researched based information, hear success stories and address issues of concern (insurance, taxes, packaging).
7.Establish a healthy market for local food processors and other homestead business by creating additional markets, partnering with two annual seasonal events and develop one stop site where all area products can be purchased and contributing to a healthier economy.
Coalition, Meetings, Newsletters, Networking, Community Kitchen
1. Coalition-utilizing the Family and Community Leadership (FCL) Model-the coalition was to contact county leaders in each of the 7 counties (including the Extension Staff) and ask for nominations. Then these county level leaders helped to develop community level leaders.
2. Meetings-experiential learning model and instruction model were used for “The Gathering” meetings. Experiential learning includes tours held in different communities, meeting sites at a rural community center or an in town site of interest, hearing local musicians, and hands on activities. Instructional learning includes lectures, nominal group process and other techniques for identifying and addressing issues.
3. Newsletters-information from USDA, UT Extension, TSU Extension, SARE, community leaders, Rural Development Agency, from related fields and resources as well as local stories and information. This newsletter was made available to entrepreneurs, organic /small farm growers/producers, key decision makers, and the coalition and interested others. Through the sustainable news everyone had equal access to information and opportunities. We posted the newsletter on willing coalition members web sites as well as our own, we mailed out newsletters, we will e-mail newsletters (encourage others to forward it on to friends and families) and we had extra copies that can be handed out by coalition members at other sites of interest.
4. Networking-Grassroots community approach by including a variety of entrepreneurs and expertise and allowing travel time, tour and break time that encouraged networking. Networking
5. Community Kitchen-tour of domestic kitchens, small community Kitchen and commercial kitchens located on the farm/homestead/community/business/UK Extension Offices for training of cooperators and key advisory members for research and study of kitchens that can be used for food prep and packaging and instructional use.
The "Gathering" Has Built a Strong Coalition
The “Gathering” has built a strong coalition of 56 community level leaders, volunteers, and small businesses. The coalition has met eight times. Through the coalition’s effort, over 550 entrepreneurs in an eight county region, (six Tennessee Counties and two Kentucky Counties) have been involved. *The Gatherings has included 16 educational sessions and tours (including tours to an Organic Gardening Operation in a Korean Compound, Indian Ceremonial Grounds at one Century Farm tour, Pick Your own Strawberry patch and retail store, vegetable retail market in an Amish Community, a community center that was rebuilt after a fire with community cooperation, a retired entrepreneur of river property search for ideas for retirement income, with programs on mapping the community resources, population studies, problem solving and use of the Nominal Group Activity, a study of the importance of history in developing the community with speakers from program partners, businesses and civic groups. *In addition to the Gathering meetings and coalition meetings, Collaborative partner held 2 workshops to inform businesses/entrepreneurs of the latest best mgt. practices, business licensing info, insurance, processing rules. *grant partners presentation programs about the “Gathering,” to 15 community group. *UT Specialist Ag Economic Development co-wrote with Agent Pile for a National e-Commerce Extension Initiative Grant to work with several surrounding counties. 2. Secure training of 5 major cooperators to visit additional food processing kitchens. *22 Coalition members toured commercial kitchen. *Toured the new Kitchen at J & S Farms. *Domestic Kitchen Certification (state level training) has been received by 26 people from the Gathering. *Domestic Kitchen Certification will be held in Montgomery County because of the interest that has been generated through The Gathering. * Attended “Food Recalls-Recall Initiation, Implementation, Effectiveness and Cost” www/foodsafetytaskforce.org. Collaborative partners have toured two small food service kitchen facilities in the area. Two partners attended food certification informational program by the Regulatory part of Tennessee Department of Agriculture. *Toured Cannon County Extension’s Kitchen (2 partners) 3. Develop coalition- A total of 56 different people are now a part of the coalition. They have meet at the county/community basis and are a part of securing information, hosting and planning meetings and securing entrepreneurs names, photographers and other volunteers for community level brochures. 4. Locate other interested entrepreneurs, *22 Communities hosted local meeting to secure names of entrepreneurs and 73 community leaders have been involved. *have located over 550 entrepreneurs and others who are interested in local foods and building community. The website ‘gogreenclarksville.com’ has a link to our gathering website and many of us have ‘Facebook’ accounts where we interact about meetings and such. *maintained and update Gathering Website (URLs are homestead-economics.com or the-gathering-of-entrepreneurs.org). *Local newspaper interviewed two partners of the SARE Grant about food regulations and other issues related to processing foods. * Tractor Show, TSU Farm Day, Houston County Chamber of Commerce, Irish Days, Stewart County Civitan, 7 Cluster County fce (Family and Community Education Organization), Farmers Market for Dummies, Sustainable Agriculture Education Workshop.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Newsletter, Website, Lending Library, Community Backdrops & Brochures
*Maintained and update Gathering Website (URLs are homestead-economics.com or the-gathering-of-entrepreneurs.org). *Local newspaper interviewes/stories-two partners of the SARE Grant about food regulations and other issues related to processing foods. Coverage of other events and activities. *Flyers created for special event days and other activities.
*Created and in the process of up-dating 18 brochures (added new entrepreneurs) and distribute brochure with the help of key volunteers and coalition.
*18 community level banners created and hung at community centers, businesses, special events. * Tractor Show, TSU Farm Day, Houston County Chamber of Commerce, Irish Days, Stewart County Civitan, 7 Cluster County fce (Family and Community Education Organization), Farmers Market for Dummies, Sustainable Agriculture Education Workshop, Special Bakers Event, Community Level Gatherings, County Fairs, Farmers Markets and Civic Groups. *Published the “Sustainability Makes Cents” Newsletter. Over 1,450 newsletters were mailed out by bulk and an additional 250 by e-mail in since January. *Weekly e-mail blast on issues to coalition/interested groups. * Gwen Roland, Southern Region SARE, Communications Specialist Contacted us for a story about the Gathering and we provided pictures and information. *Presented at the Regional Meeting of Extension *All books that were listed on the grant have been ordered and we have an additional 12 books recommended that have not been ordered. The Self Lending library will be located on a rolling cabinet at the Extension Office where it can be moved easily into meeting rooms, conference rooms for ease of use by a group or by individuals. *Hold bi-monthly gatherings of entrepreneurs to network, further develop strategies, receive researched based information, hear success stories and address issues of concern (insurance, taxes, packaging).
Over 560 entrepreneurs have been involved.
According to our last data from “The Gathering”, over 560 participants from Tennessee essentially fell into seven distinct categories: crafters (18%), value-added agriculture (primarily foodstuffs) (18%), visual artists (17%), fabric artists (quilters, seamstresses, etc.)(15%), musicians (12%), performers (5%) and agritourism (4%). Approximately 11% of participants fall into multiple or miscellaneous categories. *We did realize over the 50 (actually 56) people to serve on the Coalition at the community/county/multi county levels. * Partnering with the County Government for a Grant to further develop the Community Commercial Kitchen with the support of local decision makers and two neighboring counties. *Assisted 15 first time food based businesses and helped with the expansion of 5 such businesses. (example, Evawood Bakery Domestic Kitchen has opened a retail store and the bread is also being caring by local grocery store.) *Montgomery County Community Kitchen has been upgraded and is actively being used. *Secure training of 5 major cooperators to visit additional food processing kitchens. *22 Coalition members toured commercial kitchen. *Toured the new Kitchen at J & S Farms. *Domestic Kitchen Certification (state level training) has been received by 26 people from the Gathering. *Domestic Kitchen Certification will be held in Montgomery County because of the interest that has been generated through The Gathering. * Attended “Food Recalls-Recall Initiation, Implementation, Effectiveness and Cost” www/foodsafetytaskforce.org. Collaborative partners have toured two small food service kitchen facilities in the area. Two partners attended food certification informational program by the Regulatory part of Tennessee Department of Agriculture. *Toured Cannon County Kitchen (2 partners) *Actively involved in two new community youth gardens and helping with food resell. *15 small businesses have accepted items for resale from one or more Gathering Members. There are two farm operations, community centers. *Cake Bake event found judges, bakers, sponsors sharing information and networking. *20 entrepreneurs have checked out resources and 27 people have used the information at site. *Have had contact with all neighboring counties with all counties having community representatives at one or more meeting/special event day. *Photographers have recorded a pictorial history of our Events and Activities and Posters have been created with some of these pictures that will be held as part of the Lending Library. *Created 18 community banner/back drop. *Partnered with the TN Arts Commission and the Area Arts and Heritage Development Council to assist and bring recognition to Artist exhibiting/featured this quarter included a piano player, knitters, quilters, scrap bookers, story teller of women’s history (tells about the Homestead and canned products that were being created). *received an e-commerce grant that will began in August to have a webinare as part of our Gathering Meetings in the same counties (with one additional County) *Quilt Trails Program-worked with 3 farm related destinations to secure Quilt Boards in Montgomery County and secured a grant ($600) for a quilt board for the Smith Trahern Mansion, Working with a SARE Grant Collaborative Partner who also is the CR & D Director who is the lead agency for this project. * Partnering with the County Government for a State Community Development Grant to further *Up-date 12 brochures (added new entrepreneurs) and distribute brochure. *Displayed one or more community banners at 23 events. *News Article was on the front page of Tennessee Oldest Newspaper (The Leaf Chronicle) this week about the kitchen facility that we are working on. * The online version of Common Ground has a story about The Gathering by Gwen Roland, Southern Region SARE, Communications Specialist University of Georgia-Griffin Campus * The Gathering Poster was on display at the National Community Development Conference.
Increasing interest in shopping local and small food business
There is an interest in eating local and buying other products local, because people want to know where their food and other products come from and now more than ever there is also a desire to save money or make money through food based and other homestead businesses. Many people have always wanted to try a food or other small business. Agribusinesses are interested in having food available at their businesses and pick your own operations and fruit and vegetable growers want to process food for resale.
There is a Great Need for Networking for Entrepreneurs of Homestead Food Based and other Businesses.
There are many issues linked to creating a Homestead Food Based, Organic and other Businesses. There are also issues to eating local, such as organic, local food systems. In addition, the local processed food needs to be safe and there is a need for food safety training and commercial kitchen for farmers and gardeners to use. There is a Great Need for Networking for Entrepreneurs of Homestead Food Based and other Businesses and it would serve the individuals and counties involved to continue the project. Leaders have been identified from 47 other communities and they want to create a listing/brochure of their community/area. Counties outside our 7 county area are also interested in the process used to identify Homestead Businesses.