Connecting farmers and community to grow year-round sales of local agriculture products

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,968.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Kelly Coleman
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, cucurbits, rutabagas, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, goats, sheep, swine, fish
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, marketing management, agricultural finance
  • Sustainable Communities: community development

    Proposal abstract:

    Local farmers in Western Massachusetts have benefited from 10-plus years of consistent outreach to community members through the Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown ® program, which encourages consumers to buy local through-out the height of the growing season through advertising, events, etc. This program has had tremendous success at reaching consumers, as 82% of consumers in Franklin and Hampshire Counties recognize the brand and are spurred to buy local agriculture products. But that outreach effort has not extended into the late fall, winter or early spring. CISA believes that it is time to establish a new effort to connect farmers and community consumers year-round. Consumers are clamoring for more information about local agriculture products and eating local year-round, while farmers are beginning to grow and store more local products that they can sell in the winter months. In Franklin County there are at least three winter CSA distribution sites, our orchards have product well into winter, fiber, meat, cheese and eggs are available, and this February CISA is collaborating on Winter Fare, a week-long event to promote local eating in the dead of winter. Farmers have not yet made a big effort to promote their winter offerings because it is a relatively new and unknown market, but interest is rising as farmers see demand increase and watch neighboring farms profit. With support, farmers can tap this market and capture the imaginations, taste-buds, and dollars of local community members who want local product in December. But we need a new and concerted outreach effort that will encourage consumers to look for local agriculture products in the winter and simultaneously we need to help farmers think about winter crop options and help them outreach to consumers in the winter months. We also need a better understanding of how robust this market is – how many more farmers could be supported by an increase in local agriculture sales in the winter?

    Project objectives from proposal:

    CISA’s experience reaching out to consumers and working with farmers will provide a solid foundation for this new effort. Our work with innovative internet based tools and communications will build on a farmer workshop series we delivered last spring (details attached). We have also tapped community partners to help us understand the possibility for expanding sales of local products in the winter and to guide this project. We propose a concerted effort to reach out to consumers in the winter months through advertising, emails, event outreach, and an updated website coupled with technical assistance and one-on-one support for local farmers to assist them in developing compelling outreach through their own emails, website, advertising, and events. Our effort under this proposal will include the following components: 1. Creation of an advisory committee for the project. 2. Development of outreach/e-marketing tip-sheets for farmers. 3. Development of a community oriented informational pamphlet (print and web-based) on eating local. 4. Email newsletters to consumers and farmers providing tips and suggestions on finding local agriculture products in the winter/marketing local agriculture products, respectively. 5. Assessment of long-term barriers to further expanding winter agriculture sales (such as market demand, grower capacity, storage facilities or technological challenges.)

    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.