The promotion of collard greens in Marlboro County has brought publicity as well as more customers to the Farmers Market. The collard IPM demo plots provided experience to help the small farmers to continue using IPM. Other small farmers have expressed an interest in the IPM program and the farmers market to sell their locally grown produce. The increase in sales depleted the local collard crop to a total sell-out before January 1 which is traditionally a collard eating day.
This is a community development activity to build resilient farms and support the farmers market. Farmers in Marlboro County will promote collards greens as a profitable alternative for local farm production. This project will link various businesses, families, professionals and farmers in a collaborative problem solving effort to provide economic benefit to farmers and vendors at the farmers market. A local team including the local Government, Entomologist, Agronomists, and County Agents from Clemson University are working to promote sustainability at the Marlboro County Farmers Market.
This project will enhance the local farmers market, which was recently built. The intent is to provide opportunities for engagement of local farmers, businesses with other members of the community and provide local grown produce for consumers. The increase in the numbers of persons visiting the market will increase the sales at the market and local businesses.
The objectives of this project are:
1. To promote collard greens as a profitable alternative crop.
2. To build the capacity of the farmers market.
3. To demonstrate sustainable agriculture practices for growing collard greens.
4. To provide fresh vegetables locally grown to the community.
Collard producers in Marlboro County focused on developing a local market for their collard greens crops. Promoting collard greens as a profitable alternative crop was done using the Collard Festival, Healthy Heart Recipe Contest, 4-H Poster Contest, Healthy Heart Cooking Demonstration and the Collard Cooking Contest. Radio broadcasts, newsletters, newspaper articles, and fliers were mailed as part of the publicity for these events.
The Collard Festival was held at the Farmers Market on November 20, 2008 with approximately 155 people attending. The poster contest among the 4-H clubs and the school district was displayed at the farmers market and awards were given to eight participants during the Collard Cooking Contest. The collard cooking demonstration took place during the Festival. The Annual Collard Cooking Contest was held Monday, February 16, 2009, with over 300 people attending. The public was invited to participate in the Collard Cooking Contest. The recipes entered in the Healthy Heart Recipe Contest were compiled in a cook-book and published.
The collard greens field demonstration provided ten farmers with sustainable production practices which included IPM. The farmers provided collard greens to the 29 contestants in the collard cooking contest from the IPM demonstration. The ten demonstration plots were for small farmer training in IPM. The plot had 1000 collard plants. In addition to the plants, each participating farmer received fertilizer and insecticide for the on-farm demonstration plots.
The local community was provided the opportunities to purchase locally grown vegetable at the Festival. Also, the publicity of these activities provided information on the Farmers Market and its location.
The project has increased sales and customer base at the farmers market. We had more than 583 people to participate in the events. If we just consider the 10000 plants in the 10 demo plots, it is estimated a gross income of $20,000 to the small farmers. It is anticipated that customers will continue to support locally grown produce at the farmers market.
Educational & Outreach Activities
The items published to notify the public about events include three newsletters, three fliers, and one cookbook.