Grower to Grower: Sustainable Local Foods Marketing Panel and Resource Toolkit

Progress report for ONC21-095

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota, Extension
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Robin Trott
University of Minnesota, Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

To create a sustainable farm business selling products locally, farmers need to think about marketing options and develop a viable marketing plan. However, available farm retail marketing resources are hard to find, and many are outdated.  

To address this gap in readily available resources, this project draws together successful market farmers who sell their products directly to consumers. Each of these farmers incubated their business through farmers markets, and now have a variety of avenues where they sell and promote their products. By connecting experienced growers; who have had great success marketing their products through traditional channels, as well as on farm events, and social media; with new and emerging growers, I hope to take some of the mystery out of farm marketing and customer development. 

The farmers involved in this project live in Douglas, Todd and Ottertail Counties in Minnesota, and produce meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and value-added products. They will collaborate to create a marketing toolkit populated with resources that will help beginning farmers develop a marketing plan. Additionally, the farmers will sit on a panel to discuss marketing strategies at a regional event hosted by the Minnesota Farmers Market Association. 

Project Objectives:
  1. Create a grower profile that outlines business model and marketing strategies for all farmer partners
  2. Create a Marketing Toolkit, populated with resources and templates for beginning growers
  3. Create and present Facebook Live Events outlining Marketing Strategies
  4. Partner with Minnesota Farmers' Market Association to present a Grower Panel to address marketing issues, successes and failures
  5. Promote Marketing Toolkit, Grower Panel and Facebook Events through Media, Association Newsletters and UMN Extension Webpage to generate interest and access to resources
  6. Evaluate program to measure outcomes and impacts and to identify next steps

Cooperators

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  • Troy Heald (Researcher)
  • Katie Drewitz (Educator)
  • Ron Branch (Researcher)

Research

Materials and methods:

I have been collecting farm marketing information from many sources to put together a comprehensive marketing toolkit that will be made available via weblink to beginning and experienced farmers.  I am also creating farm profiles of my partners which will include the marketing strategies they have tried, highlighting those that are most successful.

As this is a farmer to farmer style outreach and education project, I am hoping that my partner farmers will develop connections with other farmers through this experience, and that new farmers will not feel so lost in determining their marketing strategies.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Consultations
2 Tours
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

2 Farmers
24 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

In 2021, I focused on working with 2 of my farmer partners: I visited their farms to get to know their operations, collaborated with another extension educator to host extension staff for a farm tour, and met with both after the tours to analyze how it went.  I also collected farm profiles from each. Due to COVID, not all farmer partners were able to participate at the round table marketing discussion presented at the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Expo in January.  Ron Branch of Berry Ridge Farm, and Tracy and Troy Heald of Country Blossom Farm presented a discussion of marketing strategies, and farm promotion. In March, all four farmer partners will present "Marketing Strategies for New and Experienced Growers" at the Minnesota Farmers' Market Association Open Forum.  

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

This project will provide marketing solutions and strategies for experienced and inexperienced farmers.  The intended outcomes of this project are:

Economic:

  • Farmers sell what they grow by attracting consumers to their farm business.
  • Farmers will learn about successful marketing strategies, and choose those that work best for them. This will save the time and money spent by trial and error.

Environmental

  • Farmers will grow what sells by knowing their markets and their consumers.

Social

  • Farmers will develop a relationship with their customers, and communities, and create a recognizable "farm brand" that will drive new customers to them.

 

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.