- Agronomic: potatoes
- Fruits: berries (blueberries), peaches, pears
- Vegetables: beans, beets, onions, peppers, cucurbits
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, e-commerce, value added
Given the economics in West Virginia and the part of south central Pennsylvania contiguous with West Virginia (Blair, Bedford, and Somerset counties), small farmowners are looking at what they can do to keep up. Small farms feel increased pressure and competition much more than larger farms do and these constraints make them in general more hesitant to try something like value added--they see the risk involved and it creates a delay in cash flow. Yet despite these challenges, some farmers have expressed an interest not only in learning about value-added but also in trying it on for size--if they can minimize the risk, the financial outlay, and get some solid assistance with marketing. This SARE initiative provides the opportunity for nine farmers who are interested and ready to move forward with a value added product, but may lack adequate funding, to become working partners. In this way they can develop the sweat equity needed to finance their value added processing. Their production also becomes a model for others. This proposal builds capacity and provides a high level of support. In fact, it has evolved into a systematic approach to value added for even the non-partner farmers in two states, by addressing each of the challenges that were identified during this past year by our organization in a series of dialogues across West Virginia. The methodology takes into account that as important as it is to get help with the production costs, without assistance in marketing their products these farmers would not be much better off. The particluar power of this proposal, we believe, is that it uses as consultants highly influential culinary experts and employs their connections to expand the demand side, especially by enlisting those who can buy in qualtity.
Project objectives from proposal:
Clarifying for farmers both the financial risks and advantages of value added.
Providing information and coaching about growing and processing for value added, as well as e-commerce and financing, marketing and branding.
Assisting farmers in connecting with the resources needed to make it happen which include—the processing plant and risk capital.
Finding and/or creating a market—especially for larger order demand.