Note to readers: Attached is the complete final report for FNE00-342
The overall goal of this project was to educate others in processing and marketing techniques and to improve employment opportunities. The project involved coordination with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Adirondack Kitchens Project, outreach to farmers, and exploration of marketing, processing, and adding value as a way to improve farm income.
Project methods were to send out information to about 150 farmers, processors, and agribusiness outlets about basic processing techniques, guidelines on kitchen certification, recipes, packaging, labeling, and insurance. Additional material was included in the mailing about regulations, suppliers, and other background.
This was followed by a tour of Adirondack Kitchens and follow-up on marketing concerns, including direct meetings with potential markets in Plattsburgh and Malone and research into statewide and national grocery chains. About thirty farmers and extension agents participated in these efforts, and eleven farmers toured the Adirondack Kitchens. These farmers reported some barriers to processing such as concerns about startup costs, marketing, regulations, and liability. Some of the participants’ apple products were included in a basket sold in physicians’ offices in Plattsburgh and Malone.
As a result of this effort, one farmer has started a roadside stand that sells apples and value-added items like jams, jellies, and baked goods, and has expanded this effort to include Christmas trees. Pumpkin production and sales are being planned. The project manager is also continuing to accept referrals from extension and respond to farmer inquiries.
One of the lessons learned from this project is that there is a large potential market for Champlain Valley apples, but that the Adirondack Kitchen Project, the certified processing facility, was too large and had too much overhead to be sustainable. The project manager anticipates that a smaller kitchen will be established that has a stronger marketing plan. “If you have no markets,” the project manager reported, “you are dead in the water.”
The project manager is now investigating what marketing opportunities there are within the school system and whether a coordinated marketing effort can be establish with the support of the state department of agriculture.