Despite the common belief that urban and agricultural areas are in conflict with each other, sometimes farmers can benefit from being near a large, diverse city . . . and those diverse populations can benefit from the taste of home provided by a culturally sensitive farmer.
Such is the case of Bob Hassett from Big Lake, Minnesota, who was awarded a SARE farmer-rancher grant for his innovative plan to market goat meat directly to Somali consumers in the Twin Cities. “Minnesota’s growing Somali population has created a huge market for goat meat, and his customers place a very high value on the foods they buy and eat,” Hassett says. To feed this demand – currently over 500 goats are sold a week in the Twin Cities – Somali markets have typically carried meat that has been frozen and shipped from Australia and New Zealand.
Hassett hopes to change that by working to increase the ties between local consumers and producers. Using the SARE grant, Hassett will work with bilingual Somalis to: conduct a market survey; build internet communication; conduct an economic analysis; invite Somalis to his farm for field days; and build a composting facility on his farm for slaughter byproducts. Hassett has planned for things such as van transportation to the field days and ways to connect with Somali women’s organizations. In addition, he is working to find access to a Halal, or Muslim-approved, slaughterhouse.
Already, Hassett has gathered a group of 30 goat producers to share information about production and marketing via a listserv.
Hassett’s Berry Farm is a small family farm on 25 acres that also offers pick your own strawberries and Hampshire sheep. The first Annual Minnesota Meat Goat Field Days have been scheduled for October 1-2, 2005, and will include a variety of fun and educational activities. For more information on these activities, or to join the meat goat listserv, contact Bob Hassett, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To increase marketing of locally produced fresh goat meat, area producers propose to develop a marketing strategy that will connect local meat goat producers to the rapidly growing Somali community that is are currently buying frozen goat carcasses from Australia and New Zealand.