The money from this grant provided travel funds to take a team of three farmers, a chef (the President of the Micronesian Chefs’ Association), and one Cooperative Extension Field agent to Kona, Hawaii during a week of intense activities that enhanced the farmer-chef team’s networking ability.
The activities included:
1) The subregional Western SARE conference where there were enormous networking opportunities and the chance to observe where Hawaii issues matched those addressed at the recent subregional conference held in Guam;
2) the Annual Hawaii Farmer Chef conference; and
3) the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers’ Association Annual Meeting.
The team came back with ideas and methods for interacting and working together that have been successful in Hawaii.
The Guam team held two quarterly meetings. They are continuing to work together in conducting cooperative promotional/educational activities highlighting local produce through their two organizations, the Micronesian Chefs’ Association (MCA) and the Farmers Cooperative Association of Guam (Co-Op). The quarterly meetings were replaced with select Co-Op members attending the MCA meetings quarterly for planning and local produce promotional purposes.
A six-month no-cost extension was received to provide farmer-chef education on local fruit and vegetable seasonality, and to hold a farmer-chef produce quality event and a partner planning meeting for the coming year’s farmer-chef activities. Two of these activities were completed during the period, the seasonality educational event and the planning meeting. The produce quality event was postponed until Fall of 2010.
1) Take a team of farmers, chefs and Cooperative Extension professionals from Guam to Kona, Hawaii to attend a series of meetings and tours designed to promote peer-to-peer networking.
2) Bring back ideas from this networking for use in program development (grants, collaborative events and educational programs) and actually develop programs using these ideas.
3) Serve as a catalyst to increase communication and cooperation between Guam farmers, chefs and Cooperative Extension and Tourism professionals.
Two subsequently awarded grants were influenced by ideas coming from this small Professional-Producer funded project. One was an $180,000 grant (of which over $20,000 directly addresses issues and concepts identified in this project) from USDA Rural Development that was just completed. The second, a two-year grant from Western SARE for $133,697, directly carries on and develops the concepts identified in this project. Work on the Western SARE grant will be initiated in June 2010 upon the conclusion of the Rural Development Grant and this project.
Two varieties of fig trees (‘Brown Turkish’ and ‘White Kadota’) were brought to Guam and were propagated by UOG Cooperative Extension Service. These represent a potential new enterprise for Guam producers. These original plants are now being used as mother plants for propagation of cuttings for farmers. They are bearing fruits and generating large farmer interest.
Farmer-Chef relationships have been improved through all of the collaborative events and new market channels have been explored for one product (cherry tomatoes). This is a direct result of the Co-Op “What’s Fresh Now” displays at MCA meetings. At these meetings chefs suggested that, instead of trying to develop storage and delivery infrastructure, the Co-Op should partner with one of the locally-owned wholesaler distributers that the chefs currently buy from, to assemble and deliver and market “local produce.” One of the wholesalers at the meeting expressed interest. Over a several-month period, a pilot working relationship was developed for cherry tomatoes. The initial weekly poundage has doubled over the past six months, and two more products (cucumbers and eggplant) are currently being explored. This is a significant accomplishment since it has involved a long-term working relationship with specific market product specifications. This relationship and the “local produce” are being promoted by the Co-Op at tourism industry meetings.
1) The Kona to Guam tour was a success. Local interest was so strong that the Guam Hotel and Restaurants Association: Food and Beverage Group and UOG Cooperative Extension Service sent an additional chef and Extension Specialist on the tour with other funds.
2) The desired goal of peer-to-peer networking on this tour to share new ideas also was met. Ideas brought back included: new enterprises (e.g., production and utilization of figs and citrus), education dealing with seasonality of fruits and vegetables (e.g., Guam Fruit Availability Chart and “What’s Fresh Now”), the concept of an annual regional farmer-chef conference, the idea of back-to-back related conferences (fruit-growing, farmer-chef and regional agriculture needs assessment) to increase participation, the value of bringing in USDA fruit experts in a conference format to stimulate new and improved fruit production, the impact on chefs and the public of displays and of the diversity and high-quality of local produce as part of conferences or quarterly meetings.
3) Specific accomplishments using the above concepts include:
a. Following the tour in Kona, Guam’s Farmers Co-Op prepared and was awarded a grant that included funding for the creation of local seasonality calendars for fruits and vegetables modeled on Hawaii’s concept. At three MCA meetings, one during the rainy season and two during different dry seasons (2009 and 2010), the Co-Op hosted a display consisting of currently available fruits, vegetables and herbs. Chefs and purchasing managers initiated discussions concerning their restaurants’ demand for local produce. Produce displays of “What’s Fresh Now” were prepared and staffed during three annual “Taste Guam Events” with the Co-Op and two annual Pacific Hotel and Restaurant Exhibition (PHARE) events with the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA).
b. Also following the Kona tour, the partnerships developed and ideas gained were incorporated into a Western SARE R&E grant that had passed the pre-proposal screening. This grant is now funded and in the contract issuance stage. This Professional-Producer grant has served as the planning platform for the Western SARE R&E grant to be implemented in late 2010 and 2011. The first grant supported the first planning meeting (planning notes attached) to transition the partnerships built under this grant to the R&E grant.
c. Cuttings of two promising species of fig were brought back to Guam and propagated under mist. They are now being grown out in order to promote fig production on Guam.
d. This grant leveraged with a Rural Development Grant to develop two seasonality posters and flyers; one on Guam Fruits and one on Guam Vegetables. These will be put as digital files on the Guam Sustainable Agriculture website www.guamsustainableag.org. These were used extensively in the educational and display events of this grant.
Give restaurants vegetable and fruit seasonality calendar.
Could promote “Buy Fresh” campaign on GHRA website, in more restaurants and in the upcoming “Pastries in Paradise” cookbook.