Fostering Local Foods-Based Economic Development Strategies: Developing New Resources and Networks

Final Report for ENC11-124

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $74,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Sharon Gulick
University of Missouri
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Project Information

Abstract:

Over the four years of the grant (2012-2015) we reached 262 individuals (205 community leaders and economic developers and 57 Extension educators) through regional workshops.  Participants gave the workshop an overall rating of 4.34 (on a 5pt scale) and learning increased by 1.35 points (from an understanding and knowledge self-rating of 2.58 before to 3.93 after attending the workshop).  79% said that the workshop fully met or exceeded their expectations and 95% of attendees said they would recommend the workshop to others. 

We sent out a six-month follow-up survey to participants following a workshop to determine impact and use of information.  

  • Six-month survey highlight include:
    • What where the most valuable aspects of the workshop?
      • Learning about community food processing facilities (58%)
      • Networking with other attendees (53%)
      • Hearing from local growers and producers about their experience in starting and operating their business (58%)
      • Introductory session on local food systems (42%)
    • How have you or will you use the information and connections from the workshop to foster local foods in your area?
      • Shared information from the workshop with other growers and producers (61%)
      • Planning additional local foods workshops, meeting or conferences (42%)
      • Fostering start up or expansion of food related businesses (31%)
      • Offering programs for businesses, growers and producers (marketing, business planning, liability, production issues, etc.) 31%

Our SARE team partnered with a team of Extension and campus faculty to develop a website focused on meeting the information needs of farmers and producers, consumers and communities. http://extension.missouri.edu/foodsystems/home.aspx

Project Objectives:
  • Seven regional workshops held (262 attendees with 57 Extension educators). Our grant proposal indicated that we would reach 125 participants through the statewide conference.
  • We also targeted 75% of participants would indicate and “increase in their awareness of concepts, benefits and challenges” related to food-based economic development strategies.   To date, our evaluations indicate the following change in knowledge and understanding:

Attendees Knowledge and Understanding of:

Measurement (5pt scale, 1=none, 5=a great deal)

 

Before Attending

 

After Attending

Potential for entrepreneurship in local foods

 

3.0

 

4.0

How local foods stimulate local economic development

 

2.6

 

4.1

Food Hubs

 

2.4

 

3.9

Incubators and Shared Use/Commercial Kitchens

 

2.2

 

3.4

 

  • Overall Program Rating: 4.4 on 5pt scale (1=Poor, 5=Great)
  • 95% of attendees indicated that they would recommend the workshop to others
  • 79% said that the workshop fully met or exceeded their expectations

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Sharon Gulick
  • Tish Johnson
  • Crystal Weber

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:
Outcomes and impacts:

In the first year we spent considerable time planning for the 2013 statewide conference that was to be held that November at the Bradford Farm on the MU Campus in Columbia. However, after beginning our marketing for the conference we found that there as limited interest in a two-day statewide conference and that there was much more support for regional conferences.

Based on input from our target audiences, we shifted from a multi-day, statewide conference to a series of regional workshops. Partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, we constructed an agenda that focused on the opportunity for jobs and business creation.

Since the beginning of the grant we have presented seven “Food Entrepreneurship: A New Way of Thinking about Local Food and Jobs” workshops.

Our SARE team partnered with a team of Extension and campus faculty to develop a website focused on meeting the information needs of farmers and producers, consumers and communities. The website focuses on food systems, which encompass all the processes and infrastructure involved in getting food from the farm to table. The website is designed to provide the farmer or food business owner, consumer or community leader with information and resources to help:

  • Create food systems that provide for profitable, thriving farms and businesses;
  • Steward our natural resources;
  • Ensure a safe and affordable food supply; and
  • Strengthen community relationships in rural and urban Missouri.

http://extension.missouri.edu/foodsystems/home.aspx

potential food producers was developed and tested on participants at the 2012 Missouri Farmers Market Conference. Following the conference the test was revised and an online version was created using Survey Monkey. The link to the survey was disseminated through existing email lists and posts on social media sites. The goal was 100 completed and valid surveys. Once the results were filtered to remove respondents outside the desired target population, the effort netted 114 completed and valid surveys.

Based on the survey data, the first five guides identified for development were:

  • Rules and regulations for local food entrepreneurs
  • Diversifying by adding value-added products
  • Creating a Facebook presence for your small business
  • Safe food handling and preservation for food producers
  • New market opportunities

Project faculty met with staff at the Extension and Agriculture Information department of the University of Missouri to develop a design for the Quick Bites series, as well as a plan for the best way to make the guides available.

Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve successful completion of the guide sheets. There were several factors that contributed to this, but the most significant was a lack of a clear and accessible institutional process, specifically regarding design and peer reviews, that identified how faculty submit guide sheets for development.   An additional factor was the lack of clarity on where within Extension responsibility and authority for “local foods.” On the positive side, while this project was in place, a joint HES/Ag state specialist was hired to address food safety.  This individual’s initial work was to focus on developing resources for food producers and consumers for the safe production of whole and processed food items.  Thus, components of our identified need have been met by alternative projects. 

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • Survey of the needs of current and potential food producers
  • First set of guide sheets were prepared for peer review:
    • “Regulatory Channels for Food Entrepreneurs”
    • “Understanding Your Opportunities as a Food Entrepreneur”
  • Seven regional workshops held (262 attendees which included 57 Extension educators)
  • The six-month and 18 month follow-up surveys were sent to determine impact and use of information provided has been designed.
  • As a co-sponsor for the workshops, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provided financial support (covered the meals, meeting room rental and helped with registration and marketing) for an estimated value of $2,100.

Workshop Outcomes

 

Attendees

Location/Date

Economic Development and Business Owners

Extension

Faculty

Cape Girardeau (11/14/2013)

35

3

Macon (12/12/2013)

44

16

Jefferson County (12/12/2014)

45

9

Nevada (09/19/2014)

25

3

Lebanon (04/14/2014

37

12

Gentry County (5/12/2015)

9

9

West Plains (12/4/2015)

10

5

     

TOTAL

205

57

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change in skills, knowledge and understanding before/after workshop*

Workshop Location

Overall Rating*

Entrepreneurship Potential

How Local Foods Can Stimulate Economic Development

Food Hubs

Incubators & Kitchens

Cape Girardeau

4.2

3.1 / 4.0

3.5 / 4.1

2.5 / 3.8

2.2 / 3.0

Macon

4.3

3.0 / 3.9

3.0 / 3.8

2.4 / 3.8

2.2 / 3.8

Jefferson County

4.7

3.0 / 4.1

3.2 / 4.1

2.6 / 4.1

2.3 / 3.9

Nevada

4.7

3.1 / 4.2

3.1 / 4.3

2.6 / 4.3

2.8 / 4.1

Lebanon

4.2

2.6 / 4.1

2.9 / 4.0

2.1 / 3.6

1.9 / 3.2

Gentry County

3.9

2.7 / 3.6

2.7 / 3.7

2.1 / 3.8

2.1 / 3.6

West Plains

4.4

3.4 / 4.3

3.1 / 4.6

2.7 / 4.1

2.0 / 2.5

Ratings are done on a 5 point scale

Each workshop agenda included presentations on local food systems; a definition of and discussion about the appropriate role for incubator kitchens, shared-use kitchens, commercial kitchens in developing and supporting the local food system; presentations from local growers/producers on their operations, challenges and successes; presentation by local Extension Educators on programming and outreach in the region; and, a World Café session that asked participants to discuss steps that need to be taken in the region to foster the further development of a localized food system.   Each workshop developed extensive lists of ideas which were shared with the Extension faculty from the region for programming and support.

Highlights from the workshops include:

  • The Cape Girardeau workshop included attendees from Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and they will be looking at holding a regional multi-state conference focused on local foods. A similar idea surfaced at the Macon workshop and it was decided to present the idea to the Tri-State Summit (an existing multi-state regional groups that includes 35 counties in NW Missouri, SE Iowa and Western Illinois) about co-sponsoring a workshop.
    • Keeping with the “local foods” theme, the Cape Girardeau Conference featured a lunch of local foods grown/produced in the region and prepared by the chef on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The results were spectacular – both the attendees and the chef were thrilled with the meal. The Chef told the group that this was the first time in a long time that he had the opportunity to cook with “real food.”
  • As a result of the Macon workshop, Truman State University and the Kirksville (MO) Regional Economic Development office have contact a member of the team about assistance in development and coordination of a more in-depth educational program to assist food vendors (farmers market and food trucks) in understanding the opportunities that could come from using a shared-use facility for processing and retail preparation.
  • One of the significant outcomes was Bootheel Local Foods Project (note: “Bootheel” refers to the extreme southeastern portion of Missouri), led by Van Ayers, University of Missouri Extension. Dr. Ayers was one of the Extension Educators that attended the Cape Girardeau workshop.   Among the Project’s accomplishments:
    • The Bootheel Local Foods project was completed in December 2014. Within the project over 500 people attending meetings, in which information was distributed related to the development of local foods systems in the Bootheel. 
    • Steve McKaskle and McKaskle Family Farms, Pemiscot County, constructed 44 kW photovoltaic systems; and a 3 ton per hour rice mill. This facility is processing organic rice, sold to numerous stores, groceries and restaurants throughout the United States. Assistance was given to the McKaskle family in the development of this enterprise, including assistance with grant applications, feasibility study and business plan. McKaskle Farms received a grant from USDA-Rural Development in 2014. Congressman Jason Smith, 8th Missouri Congressional District, visited the McKaskle Farm in August 2014 as part of his farm tour.
    • Steve Hamra, Hamra Farms, now Amanzi Farms, completed a business plan for his hydroponic greenhouse enterprise, with a grant funded in early 2014. An additional grant to Missouri Department of Agriculture for a local foods enterprise was written, submitted and funded.  Plans are for Amanzi Farms to develop a new facility in the Sikeston, MO industrial park.
    • Heckemeyer Farms and Matt Heckemeyer began the second year of processing sweet sorghum. Dr. Gillian Eggleston, USDA- Agricultural Research Service, New Orleans, LA; conducted research at the processing facility during the 2014. Data was collected, and analyzed, and a new process was developed for settling starch from recently crushed sweet sorghum. This project may be the precursor to larger efforts to develop the sweet sorghum industry.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • Seven regional workshops held (262 attendees with 57 Extension educators). Our grant proposal indicated that we would reach 125 participants through the statewide conference.
  • We also targeted 75% of participants would indicate and “increase in their awareness of concepts, benefits and challenges” related to food-based economic development strategies.   To date, our evaluations indicate the following change in knowledge and understanding:

 

Attendees Knowledge and Understanding of:

Measurement (5pt scale, 1=none, 5=a great deal)

Before Attending

After Attending

Potential for entrepreneurship in local foods

3.0

4.0

How local foods stimulate local economic development

2.6

4.1

Food Hubs

2.4

3.9

Incubators and Shared Use/Commercial Kitchens

2.2

3.4

 

  • Overall Program Rating: 4.4 on 5pt scale (1=Poor, 5=Great)
  • 95% of attendees indicated that they would recommend the workshop to others
  • 79% said that the workshop fully met or exceeded their expectations

Follow-up Survey

We sent out a six-month follow-up survey to participants following a workshop to determine impact and use of information.  

  • Six-month survey highlight include:
    • What where the most valuable aspects of the workshop?
      • Learning about community food processing facilities (58%)
      • Networking with other attendees (53%)
      • Hearing from local growers and producers about their experience in starting and operating their business (58%)
      • Introductory session on local food systems (42%)
    • How have you or will you use the information and connections from the workshop to foster local foods in your area?
      • Shared information from the workshop with other growers and producers (61%)
      • Planning additional local foods workshops, meeting or conferences (42%)
      • Fostering start up or expansion of food related businesses (31%)
      • Offering programs for businesses, growers and producers (marketing, business planning, liability, production issues, etc.) 31%

 

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

The work of accomplished through this grant is being used by the newly formed Local Foods Initiative team within University of Missouri Extension.  The team is looking at the results, impacts and recommendations for future actions that came out of the workshops to plan for future training, publications and outreach. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.