Enhancing the Viability and Profitability of Direct Sales and Agritourism Agripreneurs through Education, Clustering and Networking Opportunities

Progress report for NEWVU17-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $44,420.00
Funds awarded in 2018: $44,381.00
Funds awarded in 2019: $44,200.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: West Virginia University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
State Coordinator:
Dr. Doolarie Singh-Knights, Ph.D.
West Virginia University
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Project Information

Performance Target:

12 agricultural service providers who gain practical knowledge and skills needed to support farmers who wish to develop farm-to-fork businesses that meet their social values , will confidently design and deliver related educational programs/services, including but not limited to workshops, webinars, educational materials, reading-the-farm tours, individual consultations, mentoring and coaching to 100 social agripreneurs (small scale crop, livestock, and value-added producers with both profit and social motives) who manage more than 10,000 acres of farmland. The ASPs will be supported by 8 farmer leaders in their region.

Introduction:

Social agripreneurship is gaining much traction in West Virginia (WV) and the US because of increasing social awareness around food issues referred to as the ‘good food movement’. The term ‘social entrepreneurship’ was coined by William Drayton and others to describe businesses with a mission to address social exclusion and empower specific disadvantaged communities or target groups. In WV, we see both beginning and established profit-oriented family farms capitalizing on the concept of social agripreneurship, by creating a variety of farm-to-fork ventures with a strong ‘agvocacy’ and ‘good food’ message

The inclusion of social motives by farms that already face traditional challenges of farm profitability and sustainability has challenged the status quo of extension programming for the food system in WV. These small farms are increasingly interested in how to develop and promote their role as social agripreneurs to further their economic motives. And because these ventures are very small (<$20,000 in annual sales), and geographically challenged with limited market opportunities/ability to effectively capture market opportunities, they are increasingly interested in working together or forming ‘agribusiness clusters’ for financial and social benefits. A 2017 needs assessment survey conducted with ASP and producers in WV revealed that, producers generally required continued training and support in whole-farm business planning and risk management (production, price, marketing, legal and human resource risks) to support profit motives. However, a number of new training needs with ‘high importance’ emerged, including entrepreneurship/agripreneurship – understanding new market opportunities; building community partnerships and connections, marketing – new strategies for ‘selling the farm story’; advocacy; and strategic planning – topics that would ensure that social missions align with profit goals. 

This project addresses the need to build diversity and multi-functionality into extension risk management programs to create a more proactive educational model that meets both financial (profit) goals and social (agvocacy, environmental stewardship, community-building and food security) missions, while also embracing the principles of whole-farm planning and risk-management for all producers. In effect, this proposal addresses the needs of ASPs working with traditional profit-oriented producers, or ASP serving profit-oriented producers that share a social mission.

In Year 1, participants continue to learn about principles of entrepreneurship, whole-farm planning, and risk management – topics will include entrepreneurship and business planning, understanding consumer demand, resources assessment, financial analysis and management, legal liability management, marketing, and farm and food safety.

In Year 2, the project will develop an inventory of existing and potential ‘farm-to-fork’ ventures in four (4) main regions of the state: the Greenbrier Valley, the Potomac Highlands, Huntington-Charleston, and the Eastern Panhandle. Using an Agribusiness Asset Mapping Tool, ASPs will learn how to profile the farm-to-fork business in their region; identify gaps in training needs/’farm-to-fork readiness’ (understand the product and market development risks and relationships they must manage as they seek to develop farm-to- fork relationships with various customers and other social agripreneurs; and the transactional requirements to manage those relationships [food safety, insurance needs, guarantees, etc.]); and identify possibilities for building agribusiness alliances/’agribusiness cluster development’. An example of an ‘agribusiness cluster’ is a group of like-minded agribusiness working together to achieve their social and profit missions – WV Mountain Maple Days is a group of related businesses in different regions of WV working together on one weekend in March to bring visitors to their region to buy products and learn about their social contributions. Year 2 complementary ASP Training will include cooperative marketing, hospitality and events planning, ‘agvocacy’, building alliances/agribusiness clusters. Years 2 Farmer Training – ASP will be supported to deliver Year 1 materials with their producers.

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand

Educational Approach

Educational approach:
  • The project began in 2017 with an introductory webinar that introduced the overall 3-year PDP project, and annual training topics, schedule and format, and participation requirements. The project  lead beneficiaries though a comprehensive curriculum on the principles of entrepreneurship, and the business, financial, marketing, legal and hospitality skills needed to help farmers assess farm-to- fork entrepreneurship opportunities and become ready to take advantage of them. Learning activities include an integrated combination of in-person classroom workshops and web-based trainings utilizing a Moodle classroom and discussion forum (years 1 and 2).
  • In August 2018 (Year 1) beneficiaries will also have the opportunity to participate in a bus tour of successful farm-to- fork operations in WV and neighboring state(s) (likely VA, PA and/or Ohio). Participants will engage in a ‘Reading the Farm’ activity, and conduct ‘First Impressions’ assessments of direct marketing and agritourism operations. Additional individuals involved in farm-to- fork business, including direct buyers school food service directors, chefs, etc., will be invited to join the beneficiaries on the tour and this will provide opportunities for implementing best practice, networking and community building.
  • In addition to the workshops and online trainings, in Year 2 (2018-2019) the project will develop an Agribusiness Asset Mapping Tool described above, and teach beneficiaries how to use this tool to help farmers identify business partnership opportunities.
  • Partnerships are especially important for small businesses to combine resources to take advantage of market opportunities. ASPs will learn how to develop and support ‘regional agribusiness clusters’ to help their clientele achieve profit and social motives.
  • Each year beneficiaries will attend three progress-update webinars to ask questions and share challenges and successes. An annual focus group will be convened for beneficiaries to discuss the progress and evaluate the success of the project to date, and help develop future plans. To further team-building and cross-disciplinary exchanges, project participants will be invited to become part of a directory of trained ASPs and farmer-leaders who agree to be available for mutual support and as resources for inquiries from other ASPs and farmers. Finally, a key feature for ensuring that beneficiaries use their new knowledge, skills and learning resources with farmers, the project will offer travel support and stipends to cover meeting expenses for farmer education events conducted by the beneficiaries.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) October 2017: 45 ASPs and 35 farmer leaders (based on existing list serves/mailing lists) will receive notification about the 3-year project, including learning objectives and performance target, the trainings to be offered, expectations for participants, and incentives for participation (travel support and stipend for educational programs and materials).

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
35
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
45
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
32
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
42
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
June 30, 2017
Accomplishments:

42 ASPs and 32 farmer leaders (based on existing list serves/mailing lists) received notification about the 3-year project, including learning objectives and performance target, the trainings to be offered, expectations for participants, and incentives for participation (travel support and stipend for educational programs and materials).

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) November 2017: 25 ASPs and 10 farmers leaders enroll and attend introductory webinar to learn more details about ‘Enhancing Social Agripreneurs Viability and Profitability through Education, Agribusiness ‘Clustering’ Partnerships and Networking Opportunities’, including how participants can include this project in their annual plan of work, and more details on curriculum and timelines. Participants complete pre-project survey to assess their current baseline level of knowledge, skills and confidence, and particular learning interests based on client needs.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
10
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
25
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
21
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
December 18, 2017
Accomplishments:

21 ASPs and 12 farmers leaders enrolled and attended introductory webinar to learn more details about ‘Enhancing Social Agripreneurs Viability and Profitability through Education, Agribusiness ‘Clustering’ Partnerships and Networking Opportunities’, including how participants can include this project in their annual plan of work, and more details on curriculum and timelines. Participants completed pre-project survey to assess their current baseline level of knowledge, skills and confidence, and particular learning interests based on client needs. Overall, pre-survey indicated 100 percent of participants were interested in working with farmers and community groups to help them  succeed at direct marketing and agritourism initiatives; 100 percent were interested in receiving training and resources; 66 percent were interested in working directly to train producers with clustering and networking opportunities; and 34 percent were interested in working indirectly to assist producers with clustering and networking opportunities. All priority topics for training as outlined in the proposal were identified as important for the proposed curriculum, that is, each topic was selected by at least 50 percent of respondents. Therefore, the topics as outlined in the NESARE PDP Curriculum (2017-2020) will be included. One outcome of note was the mutual desire between the agriculture ASPs and Tourism ASPs to improve collaboration and partnerships to better serve our clientele; this will be incorporate into the curriculum.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) October 2017 – March, 2018: 25 ASPs and 10 farmer leaders receive updates and materials via the project website and Dropbox repository of materials to support agents training, and initiate planning and development of curriculum in entrepreneurship, whole-farm planning and risk management.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
10
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
25
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
10
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
25
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 30, 2018
Accomplishments:

25 ASPs and 10 farmer leaders continue to receive updates and materials via the project website and Dropbox repository of materials to support agents training, and initiate planning and development of curriculum in entrepreneurship, whole-farm planning and risk management. Participants received preliminary technical information on project topics (entrepreneurship, building local food systems, agritourism, etc.); best practices in direct marketing and agritourism; and reporting templates to help them plan their record-keeping and reporting their activities (and those of their farmers).

Additionally, the Project Team has conducted one online event and 2 field days (Moorefield and Morgantown, WV)  to introduce the project and recruit participants.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) April – July, 2018: At least 12 ASPs and 8 farmer leaders participate in ‘Enhancing Viability and Profitability of Direct Markets and Agritourism Agripreneurs’, conducted by project team and independent consultants. Participants will complete general curriculum in entrepreneurship, building community partnerships and strategic planning. This curriculum will comprise the following topics:
a. The Principles of Entrepreneurship in Meeting Market Oriented and Social Goals (covering the 8 Entrepreneurship Life Lessons of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program) – 8 hour workshop
b. Emerging Farm-to-Table Opportunities and Consumer Demand – 2 hour online training
c. Assessing Your Entrepreneurship and Farm-to-Consumer Potential and Readiness – 2 hour online training
d. The Business-Side of Farm-to-Table Agribusinesses; and Managing Legal Liability, Farm and Food Safety, and Event and Emergency Planning – 8 hour workshop
All online training courses are ‘blended-courses’; there will be synchronous web-conferencing to allow participants and project team to interact and share feedback on course progress.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2018
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Curriculum is being developed and workshops are being planned. Workshops started in September of 2018.

The delays in programming was due to:

  • Other conflicting state programs, which ASPs are also involved in; but also
  • ASPs indicated they wanted to work with their clientele to ensure interest in 'regional integration and clustering initiatives' before they invested heavily in attending these training events.

ASPs and Farmer Leaders have confirmed significant interest among their clientele in 'regional integration and clustering initiatives' and so this series of professional development workshops will continue in Spring of 2019.

However, in 2018 the Project Team developed an ‘Agribusiness Asset Mapping Tool’, and have begun to work with ASPs to help them learn how to apply the tool to their regional areas to identify and prioritize farm-to-table enterprises and related assets based on ‘farm-to-table readiness’, and how to digitally map these assets for future product and market development initiatives. This was actually a Year 2 milestone, and will continue into Year 2.

Update May 2019: General curriculum in "Enhancing Social Agripreneurs Viability and Profitability" completed. Some curriculum topics were addressed as stand-alone webinars and workshops, and other topics were incorporated into other state-wide or regional events attended by our core project target group and other ASPs.

 

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) 12 ASPs will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, to help cover the cost of their farmer training events. ASP will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, to help cover the cost of their farmer training events. The ASPs will be supported by 8 farmer leaders in their region.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
1
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2018
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Because of the delays in getting the program started, ASPs were not ready to begin programming in their area. They will apply for funds to initiate their programs in 2018-2019.

Update: Although Cluster Development was proposed as a Year 3 activity, there was some momentum to initiate 'regional clusters' around the Mountain State Maple Days, and other areas of interest in WV. 5 ASPs have applied for funds to help their clientele implement and promote their 'regional integration/cluster' initiatives. These activities were mostly around the Mountain State Maple Days Regional Clusters, and other emerging areas ('ramp festival' ; 'farm crawl' and 'open farm days'. ASPs used funds to cover travel, supplies, printing, and refreshments, necessary to work with these initiatives.

More summer regional clusters are being planned, and will continue into Year 3.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6) June - September, 2018: 12 ASP, 8 Farmer Leaders, and 15 other community stakeholders (direct buyers – food service directors, chefs, etc.) participate in an educational, networking and ‘cluster stimulation’ bus tour of successful farm-to-table operations in WV and neighboring state(s) (likely VA, PA or Ohio), with at least 8 stops. One-day of this tour will be devoted to a ‘Reading the Farm’ effort to help participants understand the farm as a whole-system, and gain an increased level of awareness about farm management parameters to consider when they are making recommendations to help profit- and socially-oriented agripreneurs to manage and sustain their agribusinesses. Other tours will incorporate the ‘First Impressions for Tourism’ program, but adapted for direct marketing and agritourism operations (something being worked on by WVU Extension). Participants will also understand what’s possible and what works in farm-to-table operations and related agribusiness clusters. The tour will also help participants to build a sense of community among farm-to-table stakeholders, through networking and ‘bonding’ on the bus tour. ASPs will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, to help cover the cost of their own ‘Reading the Farm’ training events.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2018
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Again, because of the delay in getting the program started, the Bus Tour has been delayed to July of 2019.

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

7) October, 2018: 12 ASPs, 8 farmer leaders, and 15 farm-to-table stakeholders as above receive notification, enroll and attend a focus group workshop to discuss the progress and evaluate the success of the project to date, help develop future plans, and begin compilation of directory of trained ASP and farmer leaders that will be available for general contact.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
8
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2018
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

There has been informal evaluation of the project so far. Planning for one focus group meeting have proved difficult, so I have met with the 4 core regional groups (ASPs and their clients) for at least 3-hours each, to discuss their progress on activities to date, evaluate their successes and challenges to date, and to help develop future plans for future initiatives. For example, when meeting with the participants in Mountain State Maple days, we discussed what worked well and what did not, both in terms of their individual operations and how they worked within the 'cluster.

Although we have gotten off to a late start, ASPs and farmer leaders continue to participate in workshops and have begun working on regional integration and clustering initiatives with their clientele in 2019.

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

8) Project team complete annual verification and evaluation activities (pre- and post-test comparisons, and annual progress update focus groups) to evaluate project progress and modify activities based on feedback. We will document events and processes against project plan; conduct formal curriculum evaluation; and assess efficacy of the curricula; and assess effectiveness of overall project.

Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2018
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Formal survey has been designed and survey data on regional integration initiatives is being conducted.

Update May 2019 -  Surveys covering work completed since 2017 is being completed; completion date is August 2019. We opted to delay the survey until our participants had some tangible activities (and experience regarding these activities) to report on. The current survey will include analysis of the Mountain State Maple Days regional integration effort.

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) November 2018 – January, 2019: Project team develops an ‘Agribusiness Asset Mapping Tool’, and ASP learn how to apply the tool to their regional areas to identify and prioritize farm-to-table enterprises and related assets based on ‘farm-to-table readiness’, and how to digitally map these assets for future product and market development initiatives. While ASPs are the main beneficiary here, other project participants (Farmer Leaders, Farmers and other Community Stakeholders) will also be invited to the workshop, as their input is necessary to building a complete asset map. – 4 Hour Workshop – estimated 35 participants

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
5
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
5
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
January 31, 2019
Accomplishments:

Project team completed development of the ‘Agribusiness Asset Mapping Tool’. ASPs attended two 'Go-to-Training' sessions and GIS Expert Jackie Strager guided them through the mapping tool. Participants learned how to apply the tool to their regional areas to identify and prioritize farm-to-table enterprises and related assets based on ‘farm-to-table readiness’, and how to digitally map these assets for future product and market development initiatives. ASP and Farmer Leaders are now working with their constituents to populate the asset map. The database being collected and populated on the asset map includes the following:

- Business Information - Name, address, Contact info, website/social media

- Business Category - Accommodations, Arts and Culture, Community Resources, Emergency Services, Food and Drink, Historical sites, Recreation/leisure, Services, Retail/shopping

- Types of markets (direct sales, on-farm sales, agritourism [education, entertainment, accommodations, recreation])

- Types of products offerings - fresh fruits and vegetables, value-added products, arts, crafts and other artisan products.

- Farm-to-table readiness - formal hospitality training, farm and food safety training, partnerships and alliances, marketing, etc.

 

 

Milestone #10 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) February - May 2019: 12 ASPs, supported by 8 farmer leaders, work with Project Team to implement ‘Asset Mapping’ tool in their regional areas and work with aspiring, beginning and experiences producers in their targeted regions to populate asset map with information and attributes about the business (from primary data collection or updating with existing data). Resultant asset map will show inventory of existing or proposed agribusinesses in each of the 4 regions (the Greenbrier Valley, the Potomac Highlands, Huntington-Charleston, and the Eastern Panhandle), and an assessment of their ‘farm-to-table’ readiness.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
8
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

ASP and Farmer Leaders are now working with their constituents to populate the asset map. We are starting with the core project regions ( (the Greenbrier Valley, the Potomac Highlands, Huntington-Charleston, and the Eastern Panhandle), but asset mapping project may extend to other areas of WV.

The database being collected and populated on the asset map includes the following:

- Business Information - Name, address, Contact info, website/social media

- Business Category - Accommodations, Arts and Culture, Community Resources, Emergency Services, Food and Drink, Historical sites, Recreation/leisure, Services, Retail/shopping

- Types of markets (direct sales, on-farm sales, agritourism [education, entertainment, accommodations, recreation])

- Types of products offerings - fresh fruits and vegetables, value-added products, arts, crafts and other artisan products.

- Farm-to-table readiness - formal hospitality training, farm and food safety training, partnerships and alliances, marketing, etc.

Milestone #11 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) June - July, 2019: Project team use Asset Map and GIS spatial analysis techniques to identify gaps in ‘farm-to-table readiness’; potential business linkages between agribusiness based on their complementarity; and potential ‘agribusiness cluster’ opportunities in production and/or marketing. This analysis will enable ASPs and producers to determine agribusiness sites and regional areas for additional training and technical support efforts, and for regional agribusiness ‘cluster’ development. This analysis will be shared to enable ASPs and producers to determine agribusiness sites and regional areas for additional training and technical support efforts, and for regional agribusiness ‘cluster’ development. While ASPs are the main beneficiary here, other project participants (Farmer Leaders, Farmers and other Community Stakeholders) will also be invited to the workshop, as their input is necessary to building agribusiness clusters. 4 Hour Workshop - estimated 35 participants.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
5
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

ASP and Farmer Leaders are now working with their constituents to populate the Agritourism Asset Map. Once this is completed, the team will use the database/Asset Map and GIS spatial analysis techniques to identify gaps in ‘farm-to-table readiness’; potential business linkages between agribusiness based on their complementarity; and potential ‘agribusiness cluster’ opportunities in production and/or marketing.This analysis will enable ASPs and producers to determine agribusiness sites and regional areas for additional training and technical support efforts, and for regional agribusiness ‘cluster’ development.

Our GIS specialist will assist with these spatial analysis techniques and related trainings.

Milestone #12 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) August – October, 2019: 12 ASPs and 8 farmer leaders participate in ‘Fam-to-Table Readiness and Regional Agribusiness Cluster Development’ training to understand the results of the Asset Mapping activity; and to understand the market development risks and relationships small agribusinesses must manage as they seek to develop farm-to-table relationships with various customers and other social agripreneurs; and the transactional requirements necessary to manage those relationships. The Year 2 curriculum will address the following topics:
a. Innovative Marketing Strategies for Farm-to-Table Enterprises – 4 hour online training
b. Hospitality Training and Management; Strategic Planning, and Building Meaningful Partnerships with Producers and Consumers – 8 hour workshop in 3 convenient regional areas (3 Workshops)

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

NA

Milestone #13 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) August – October, 2019: 12 ASPs will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, to help cover the cost of their farmer training events. By having the service providers work with farmers throughout the project, they can transfer new learning and practice new skills immediately as they help farmers achieve specific benchmarks and goals. ASP identify people to work with on clusters.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 30, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Although Cluster Development was proposed as a Year 3 activity, there was some momentum to initiate 'regional clusters' around the Mountain State Maple Days, and other areas of interest in WV. 5 ASPs have applied for funds to help their clientele implement and promote their 'regional integration/cluster' initiatives. These activities were mostly around the Mountain State Maple Days Regional Clusters, and other emerging areas ('ramp festival' ; 'farm crawl' and 'open farm days'. ASPs used funds to cover travel, supplies, printing, and refreshments, necessary to work with these initiatives.

More summer regional clusters are being planned, and will continue into Year 3.

Milestone #14 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6) October, 2019: 12 ASPs & 8 farmer leaders, and 10 selected ‘Regional Agribusiness Cluster’ stakeholders from the identified regions, receive notification, enroll and attend a focus group workshop to discuss the progress and evaluate the success of the project to date, help develop future plans, and update compilation of directory of trained ASP and farmer leaders that will be available for general contact. 4 Hour Focus Group Workshop.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

NA

Milestone #15 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

7) Project team complete annual verification and evaluation activities (pre- and post-test comparisons, and annual progress update focus groups) to evaluate project progress and modify activities based on feedback. We will document events and processes against project plan; conduct formal curriculum evaluation; and assess efficacy of the curricula; and assess effectiveness of overall project.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

NA

Milestone #16 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

8) In 2019, we will complete the 'Bus Tour' as was proposed for Year 1. 12 ASP, 8 Farmer Leaders, and 15 other community stakeholders (direct buyers – food service directors, chefs, etc.) participate in an educational, networking and ‘cluster stimulation’ bus tour of successful farm-to-table operations in WV and neighboring state(s) (likely VA, PA or Ohio), with at least 8 stops. One-day of this tour will be devoted to a ‘Reading the Farm’ effort to help participants understand the farm as a whole-system, and gain an increased level of awareness about farm management parameters to consider when they are making recommendations to help profit- and socially-oriented agripreneurs to manage and sustain their agribusinesses. Other tours will incorporate the ‘First Impressions for Tourism’ program, but adapted for direct marketing and agritourism operations (something being worked on by WVU Extension). Participants will also understand what’s possible and what works in farm-to-table operations and related agribusiness clusters. The tour will also help participants to build a sense of community among farm-to-table stakeholders, through networking and ‘bonding’ on the bus tour. ASPs will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, to help cover the cost of their own ‘Reading the Farm’ training events.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
27
Proposed Completion Date:
July 31, 2019
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Bus tour itinerary and trip planning in progress.

Milestone #17 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) October, 2019 - January, 2020: Project team conducts team-building, strategic planning and organizational development, managing conflicts, and contracts and agreements training for 12 ASP, 8 farmer leaders and 6 sets of ‘regional cluster’ stakeholders (including agribusiness and other regional entrepreneurs interested in clustering with other entities) – 8 hour workshop.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #18 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) February - June, 2020: Project team and subject matter specialist assist ASP and Farmer Leaders with the formation of at least 4 ‘regional agribusiness clusters’ in counties where there are a number of farmers engaged in existing farm-to-fork businesses and interested in working collectively with others in a ‘regional cluster’. 12 ASP and 8 Farmer Leaders, and 6 sets of ‘regional cluster’ stakeholders will receive technical assistance in initial strategic planning, establishing key leaders and working policies, etc. Each cluster will operate independently from project team in 6 months – 2 3-hour workshop at each of 4 locations.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #19 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) March- August, 2020: ASPs and Farmer Leaders will apply for project funds (submit plan of work) following training, and Project Team, ASP and Farmer Leaders will help train at least four (4) ‘farm-to-table’-ready regional agribusiness clusters to develop and promote their agribusiness clusters to various buyers (schools, restaurants, institutions, etc.) and customers (residents and visitors). 2 3-hour workshop at each of 4 locations.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #20 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) July - September, 2020: Participants respond to Year 3 evaluations and verification surveys about overall project effectiveness and farmers impacts

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #21 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) October 2020: 12 ASPs & 8 farmer leaders and 10 selected farm-to-table stakeholders, enroll and attend a focus group workshop to discuss the progress and evaluate the success of the project to date, help develop future plans, and update compilation of directory of trained ASP and farmer leaders that will be available for general contact.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 25 27 52
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 4 5 9
On-farm demonstrations 2 4 6
Online trainings 3 2 5
Published press articles, newsletters 3 4 7
Study circle / focus groups 3 1 4
Webinars, talks and presentations 8 5 13
Workshop / field days 2 5 7

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 10 10 0 10
NRCS 1 1 0 1
Researchers 1 1 0 1
Nonprofit 4 4 0 4
Agency 4 4 0 4
Farmers / ranchers 20 22 0 20

Participation Summary:

20 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

In progress

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Curricula, factsheets and other educational tools 2 3 5
Consultations 12 11 23
On-farm demonstrations 0 1 1
Published press, articles, newsletters 1 2 3
Webinars, talks and presentations 6 5 11
Workshops and field days 0 2 2
4 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
Total amount of production these farmers manage:
IN progress
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

4 ASP reported working directly with their regional clientele/stakeholders ('Regional Agriculture Working Groups') to advance 'cluster-development' activities, and discuss issues of entrepreneurship, whole-farm planning and risk management with their respective clientele. Their activities to date based on personal communication are - 5 factsheets, 23 one-on-one consultations, 1 on-farm demonstration, 3 newsletter article, 11 Presentations, and 2 workshops.

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Target #1

Target: number of farmers who will make a change/adopt of practice:
50
Target: the change or adoption the farmers will make:
50 beginning farmers who manage more than 5,000 acres adopt at least four (4) recommended actions in entrepreneurship, whole-farm business planning and risk management, community partnerships and strategic planning, and report improved productivity and/or profitability of existing/expanded operations and fulfillment of social goals. Examples include: • Conduct entrepreneurship and farm-to- fork readiness assessment, prioritize risks and marketing concerns, and develop an appropriate whole-farm plan to be used to further their profit and social motives; or • Develop whole-farm, enterprise and/or partial budgets, and associated records, to estimate costs, returns, and break-even points, and transactional requirements for a specified farm-to- fork target market; or • Initiate a business relationship with a complementary enterprise or a regional agribusiness cluster to implement one aspect of their whole-farm plan.
Target: total size/scale of farmers these farmers manage:
5,000 acres

Additional Project Outcomes

Number of grants applied for that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
1 1 2
Number of grants received that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
1 1
Dollar amount of grants received:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
$1 $ $ $1
Number of new working collaborations:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
1 5 6
Additional Outcomes Narrative:

IN progress

Success stories:

NA

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

NA

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:
  • NESARE display and information sharing:
    • WVUES Small Ruminant Project Short-Course – Nov. 2017
    • WVUES Dinner Meetings – Jan – March, 2018; Jan-Mar, 2019
    • WVUES Small Farms Conference - March 2018, Feb 2019
    • WVES County Faculty Meeting - April, 20198
    • WVUES Tri-State Conference or Urban Agriculture Conference – April, 2018, May 2019
    • WV Women in Agriculture Conference - Preparation for Display - Nov. 2018
    • Email Communication - weekly email for updates
    • Personal Communication - as requested (over 25 in 2018-2019)
  • Respond to inquiries about SARE grant programs and resources in a timely manner
  • Promote SARE-sponsored events
  • Promote outcomes, educational resources and project profiles or stories from SARE-funded projects
  • Help strengthen sustainable agriculture networks in the state or region.
  • Restructuring NESARE-WVU website for rollout in Spring 2019

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 25 22 0 47
Farmers 50 55 0 105
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.