This project will provide the educational assets and peer learning framework for value chain development in the artisanal dairy product sector. Innovative women farmers heading established goat dairies, artisanal cheese production and on-farm livestock operations will co-design the project. Women and low income farmers will be the targeted beneficiaries of peer to peer based strategies farmer co-designed to address a shifting regulatory environment with focused curriculum on GAP, Season Extension, HACCP, and FDA dairy production.
4 “Mentors in Training” will emerge as mentors in their fields, adding educational revenue into their businesses as a sustainable profit center.
100 limited-resource farmers will participate in peer-to-peer workshops to be trained in specialty dairy operating models, regulatory compliance and improving profitability.
100 limited-resource farmers will implement strategies from knowledge acquired during peer-to-peer workshops, increasing their income and access to markets.
Workshop participants and instructors will gain access to a network of small dairy professionals. Mentors in Training will build relationships with 10 participants and create innovative partnerships that may result in improved market access and increased profitability.
Enable four selected women farmers to participate in a “mentor in training program” to prepare them to create curriculum, host on-farm workshops and operational tours, and mentor peers in their agricultural field of specialty dairy production. Krista Duval of Creekside Farms, Michelle Gorman of Integration Acres, Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farms and Annie Warmke of Blue Rock Station are all women farmers specializing in aspects of Goat Dairy production. They met over the first year with Rural Action staff, Mentor Trainer Becky Rondy of Green Edge Organic Gardens, ACEnet staff, including Leslie Schaller.
Training program to be organized and convened by Rural Action and ACEnet this was completed as outlined below.
Share and evaluate examples from the previous specialty crop model for customization to new model. This was shared by Becky Rondy, and all four of the participating farmers, in consultation with RA, ACEnet, and Becky Rondy developed curriculum and training goals based on their own comfort level with sharing.
Establish Becky Rondy (GE) as primary trainer for “Mentors in Training” as participants transition to mentors in year two. She educated on curriculum development, workshop implementation, and extended mentoring tactics that were derived from her own experience at GE Season Creation workshops.
RA and a designated graphic designer, Jennifer Johnson worked with the “Mentors in Training” to create professional workshop materials and promotional outreach media, including workshop presentations, packets, handouts, and social and traditional media promotions. The four MITs worked one-on-one with the RA facilitated team, and went through an individually acceptable curriculum design and planning process.
ACEnet will prepare materials to identify additional workshop topics, educational materials, brand supports, and resource networks. They will take the lead in customizing Market Ready curriculum for both new, direct, and wholesale markets.They will also connect mentors and training attendees to access to capital resources and brand programs. Their brand staff will collect market data to identify the supply needs for specialty dairy products by restaurants and wholesale grocers. Data will help to identify premium product pricing and marketing analysis for value chain coordination in year two.
ACEnet product development staff will complete research and convene meetings with ODA inspectors to develop the necessary curriculum around FDA and HACCP requirements. This information was collected in a google drive by ACEnet staff for easy sharing with the project participants, and will be a key component of the March 2018 workshop in Zanesville Ohio to be conducted by ACEnet, RA, Women Grow Ohio, and Annie Warmke, Becky Rondy, and Abbe Turner. An ODA Dairy Inspector is confirmed to present.
One peer to peer education workshop will be conducted in year one, this was convened in March of 2017, attended by Michelle Gorman of Integration Acres, Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farm (Via Skype), and Christa Duval of Creekside Farms. Separate meetings with Peer Mentor Becky Rondy were held throughout year one, and meetings were held with RA and ACEnet staff, and the farmer participants. Annie Warmke joined the project in September of 2017, and met separately with all of the participants.
Four peer to peer mentees will receive training in year one, Abbe Turner, Annie Warmke, Michelle Gorman, and Christa Duval, all received training from Becky Rondy in year one in preparation for their educational outputs in year two.
One current farm mentor receives experience in cross sector peer to peer education support (specialty crop lessons transferred to specialty dairy producers) Becky Rondy worked with the participants on their curriculum development, especially consulting on what could be comfortably shared by the farmers without detriment and loss of proprietary information. She shared her experiences with creating a profit center focused on the “intellectual capital” of Green Edge Organic Gardens.
Four sets of education materials created. This was done by Christa Duval of Creekside, by the creation of a dairy goat soap making toolkit and curriculum, created in conjunction with RA staff and graphic designer. She also created a film of the farm, including the process they went through to become an animal welfare approved farm. Annie Warmke of Blue Rock Station created informational posters on Dairy Goat Management in conjunction with ACEnet, and RA staff and graphic support. She also worked with ACEnet on the creation of podcasts, and with RA and ACEnet, and the ODA and with Women Grow Ohio on the creation of an agenda for a March 2018 Dairy Goat workshop. Abbe Turner created a presentation on the creation of Lucky Penny Farm, including an in depth look at her experiences in putting together the necessary financials and business planning. This will first be presented at the March 2018 workshop. She also participated in the development of the podcasts, and the posters, and the development of the agenda for the March 2018 workshop. Michelle Gorman of Integration Acres was delayed in creating curriculum but has been involved in the podcast creation and is completing her curriculum development in 2018.
Partnerships with additional shared use/incubator facilities will be used as distribution sites and for delivery of regulatory educational information. This is part of an on-going cross sector effort by ACEnet and RA. ACEnet has hired three staff member-one focused on wholesale distribution networks, one focused on microenterprise development, and one focused on HACCP plan development and shared kitchen use. In year one they’ve developed trainings and webinars that will be shared with project participants in year two.
Development of quantifiable project indicators, including number of farmers and businesses impacted, changes in quantities of food distributed, changes in employment, and capacities for participation in local food system among targeted project stakeholders
Design of baseline and post workshop surveys for individuals to track changes in participants’ perspectives, capacities, and impacts over the course of the projects; This was done in year one in the form of a survey sent out to Dairy Goat producers, and in a workshop evaluation for the March 2018 workshop.
Network mapping to determine the density and distribution of connections between the project partners and core constituencies participating in the project, this is an ongoing effort that is part of the ACEnet marketing assistance.
Identification and drawing out of best practices that can inform broader national efforts to address food security through community food hub development, this is ongoing and will be completed in year 2.
Outreach strategies will work along value chain networks to disseminate info about the project concept and the upcoming workshops, In 2017 Outreach occurred at the 2017 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference, at the Women Grow Ohio networking sessions, through RA and ACEnet social media, and through the Ohio Dairy Goat Association. RA, ACEnet and the farm mentors alo promoted the project through regional community outreach, social media, press releases, and partner organizations including OSU Extension, NRCS and NSAC.
Outreach to Ohio partners: Women Grow Ohio, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), Ohio Farmers Union, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, the Ohio-WV food Hub Network, and many other farm association partners to provide postings ad articles about the project and educational opportunities.
High-quality materials were professionally designed and were vetted by the partnering team including Becky Rondy and Leslie Schaller, most are updated to this report.
Becky Rondy (Farm Mentor) focused on quality of content ensuring proven methods are highlighted and broken down into an easy to understand format.
Leslie Schaller will ensure the publications include all materials relevant to the business planning for the participants.
RA has been responsible for final edits and distribution of materials.
ACEnet staff (Schaller and Fisher) will prepare materials to identify workshop topics, educational materials, brand supports and resource networks.
Brand staff will collect market data to identify the supply needs for specialty dairy products by restaurants and wholesale grocers.
Data will help identify premium product pricing and marketing analysis for value chain coordination in year 2
Fisher will complete research and convene meetings with ODA inspectors to develop the necessary curriculum around FDA and HACCP requirements
In year one, ACEnet staff provided 5 workshops and webinars on MarketReady for wholesale and direct markets; access to capital for loans, crowdsourcing and grants; and food regulatory topics: FDA processing, HACCP plans and food safety.
Major participant (ACEnet) will lead coordination and delivery of workshops that will supplement the on-farm learning opportunities, and will include food safety, HACCP training, wholesale readiness training, and collaborative brand programs.
Schaller will also work with farm mentors, assisting with curriculum design on business analysis, financial planning, marketing, labeling and packaging requirements.
ACEnet consultants will also coordinate the supplemental training that will be hosted at various food hubs throughout the region.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Educational materials were developed to be presented in February and March of 2018.