Progress report for ONC20-080

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $38,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Hoosier Harvest Market
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Amy Surburg
Hoosier Harvest Market
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Project Information

Summary:

The Hoosier Harvest Market, a mutual-benefit farmer owned co-operative, aims to expand their Hoosier Harvest 365 Hospital Delivery Program (HDP), which was deployed in Hancock County in 2018. The HDP was established by a small group of farmers as a way to expand their product offering into a wholesale market while providing fresh and healthy produce for the community. The HDP partners with local hospitals allowing physicians to “prescribe” vouchers for a bi-weekly bag filled with fresh produce. 

The goal of the HDP Expansion is to deploy the program in Decatur County with new producers while partnering with Decatur County Memorial Hospital. The project will expand the educational outreach by providing additional hands-on cooking demonstrations in partnership with Greensburg Community Schools to increase exposure and awareness of local food options for food-challenged students.

This 18 month project will create sustainability for the participating farms by providing them with a new market opportunity along with a pre-planned and predictable order for their produce. This project also eliminates food waste from over-harvesting when demand is low, increasing production efficiency through effective planning, which results in higher income and greater market exposure for the farms involved.  

Project Objectives:
  • Expand the HDP program as a year-round sustainable project in Decatur County
    • This will result in an increase in revenue for the HHM and increased sales of 5-10% for each identified farm
  • Use patient wellness tracking to record how many patients are utilizing the program
    • survey participants to determine the impact of the program on their produce consumption
  • Partner with at least four new agricultural producers in Decatur County
  • Increase knowledge/purchase habits of fresh produce by prescribed patients and the community
  • Share findings through HHM website, social media and public presentations

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Oak Hawk
  • Kathy Cooley , RD
  • Pam Rieke

Research

Materials and methods:

This project was designed to expand markets for farmers by increasing wholesale sales opportunity through participation in a multi-producer CSA program delivered to hospital patients identified by the partner hospital through Hancock Harvest365 prescription produce program. Farmers participating agreed to provide specified amounts of produce through the season to fill the bags.  The primary data point measured for farms was the sales increase from this new market expansion.  In 2020, we filled 45 bags per week for Hancock Regional Hospital in central Indiana.  Some of the southeast farm products were used in this project as well as in the newly created southeast hub.  In the southeast region, Hoosier Harvest Market created an agreement with the non-profit Batesville Food and Growers association to share resources.  We established a new aggregation site at Dottie’s Bulk Foods in Batesville and partnered with Margaret Mary Hospital to deliver produce boxes through their Cooking Matters class.  Participants in the class received a weekly box with a recipe and learned to cook the contents of their box.  15 boxes per week were delivered from June 2020 through September 2020 with this program.  In addition, Margaret Mary and the Batesville Food and Growers Association was awarded a John A Hillenbrand Foundation grant to provide up to 30 boxes per week starting in October of 2020 (grant documents attached) JAH Foundation grant application_FGA_part_1 (1)JAH Foundation grant application_FGA_part_2.  They have partnered with the Hoosier Harvest Market to deliver these boxes over the next two years.  In spring of 2021, farmers participating in these projects will meet to coordinate the delivery and agree to provide weekly produce amounts to fill the boxes.

The news of our program has also reached the Marion County Health department.  In 2021, the Marion County health Department will be applying for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Grant Program program grant to fund box delivery to patients of Eszkenazi Hospital with their ProduceRx program – a very similar program to Hancock Harvest365.  As long as they are able to obtain the funding for the boxes, Hoosier Harvest Market will be partnering with them to procure the produce from our member farmers, expanding our program in to Marion county and partnering with another hospital/governmental entity to do so. Here is the outline of the new partnership: 

YEAR

# of Participants per year (average each round)

Length of program

   

Year 1 (2021 – 22)

135 (45)

4 months (one box per month)

   

Year 2 (2022 – 23)

210 (70)

4 months (one box per month)

   

Year 3 (2023 – 24)

270 (90)

4 months (one box per month)

   

 

 

 

   

 

Produce Rx runs every 4 months in Rounds, so the participant reach will be divided out to about 3 rounds a year.  So in the () is the average number of participants each month that we will need produce boxes for each round.  We will provide dates based on the formal program completion.  The produce boxes will be following a 4 month formal nutrition education program where they received incentives to spend at retail settings for fresh fruits and vegetable.  So our proposed expansion for our Produce Rx Program is an 8 month program (4 months of monetary incentives and 4 months of receiving local produce from HHM). 

Research results and discussion:

In its first 9 and 1/2 months of operation, HHM-Southeast has generated $24,900 in increased
revenue for participating farmers in the southeast and central Indiana region, including $7,000 in revenue from Harvest365 box sales.  Southeast Indiana farm participants have seen an increase of $8900 in sales through the new hub going to their region.   Additionally, southeast Indiana farmers are able to send products to the Indianapolis hub through through back hauling.  Producers that have chosen to participate in the Indianapolis regional sales have seen an additional $7900 in revenue through that market opportunity.  SoutheasttoIndySales salesbyproducersouthestdistribution

Box program participants:
Arnold Farm
Lobenstein Farm 
Michela Farm 
Armonds Harper Valley Farms 
Good Seed Garden
Hen A Ben Farm 

Southeast retail and wholesale sales participants (not in the Harvest365 program, but selling through the new hub)
Beneker Farm 
 

Central Indiana Farm participants in the southeast Harvest365 program

Berry Goods Farm LLC 
Garcia’s Garden 

Other central Indiana members are participating in sales through the southeast co-op but are not in the Harvest365 program.

Note: Most members of the Hoosier Harvest Market Food hub are classified in the very small farm (under $25,000 in annual revenue) category.  These sales numbers would represent at least a 5-10% increase in sales for these farms.  In 2020, due to the pandemic, many of these farms sales were also significantly curtailed by the farmers market closures.  Opening the southeast hub and offering online retail sales with delivery during this time period allowed multiple farms to continue production as planned and even increase retail revenue over their typical farmers market sales.

 

Participation Summary
6 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary

1 Farmers
1 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Hoosier Harvest365 poster

Indiana Small Farm Conference Poster Presentation – Amy Surburg created a poster outlining the project to date, and the measures taken to modify distribution during the COVID19 pandemic.  Poster was submitted for presentation during the forum at the Indiana Small Farm Conference online March 4-6 2021. 

Cooking Matters Classes – delivered to patients participating in the bag delivery program through Margaret Mary Health.

Learning Outcomes

7 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation

Project Outcomes

7 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
2 Grants received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

The 6 farm participants all saw an increase in revenue for 2020 at an average of 5%.  

Objective of at least 4 new participant farms was exceeded.  We have 7 new farms participating in Southeast Indiana.  

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.