The problem the Granby Agricultural Commission sought to address through the Granby Sampler was that local residents were not aware of the variety of products available from local farms and farmers needed a method to reach the consumers. In its second project year, the Granby Sampler provided 12 distributions [2 per month, June through October, and then 1 in November and 1 in December] of local farm products to 44 subscribers (up from the original 25). It introduced the subscribers to the variety of products grown/produced on farms in or very near Granby and created a new reliable market for the farmers. We purchased $29,701. in goods from 33 local farms for distribution. We also made sure the subscribers knew which farms provided the contents of each distribution and encouraged the subscribers to shop locally—they did! The second year continued the success of the first year and we will continue independently of NE SARE grant in 2012.
The objectives listed in the grant narrative included increasing farm revenue, maximizing the use of current farm production, creating a better connection between farmers and consumers, introducing new farm products and new farmers to the Granby community, and improving the quality of life for farmers and the community through sustainable agriculture.
• Increasing farm revenue – in our narrative we listed new products offered by farmers, revenue generated by the Granby Sampler and decreasing the time farmers spent marketing, selling and delivering products as our methods. For our pilot project year we were too late [March] to influence the selection of products offered by farmers but farmers have promised us several new products for the coming year. The success of the first year gave the farmers confidence that we do have a market and our increase from 25 to 44 subscribers almost doubled the opportunity for sales. We purchased $17,700 in goods from 30 farms in our first year. In our second year we purchased just under $30,000. in goods from 33 farms. With little additional effort on their part, farmers were able to increase their presence in the local community. The attempt at having crops planted on request failed. Lack of time, moderate effort and Mother Nature combined to sabotage our goals in that area.
• Maximizing use of current farm production – We add another market for the farmers and do make use of local farm production. We attempted adding to the crop variety with no success. Farmers volunteered to try certain products that we requested–but in the end no one did this past year. We will ask again!
• Better connection between farmers and consumers – we wanted to gauge the percent of their food budget subscribers spent at local farms and encourage the subscribers to shop at local farms featured in the Granby Sampler. We sought the mutual satisfaction of farmers and consumers. Each subscriber paid $720 for food and an additional $60. adminstrative fee, what percentage of their food budget that encompassed depends on whether they were a retired couple or a family with four children. For most of our subscribers it was at least $500 more than they had ever spent at local farms before [many had purchased corn and tomatoes at local stands for example]. And all of our subscribers ventured to one or more of the farms featured in the Sampler distributions. This is an ongoing benefit. We hold a farmer/subscriber potluck and the positive connection continues to grow judged by the conversations and comments heard at the gathering.
• Introduction of new farm products and new farmers to the Granby community – our subscribers had little knowledge of the variety of products grown and made on Granby farms and so “new products offered by farmers” was an easily attained goal. We introduced them to sources for meat, dairy, honey, soap, preserves, baked goods and more and they responded with delight, pleasure and the desire to acquire more—which they continue to do by pulling information about specific farms off of the granbyag,org website and contacting the farmers for more.
• Improving the quality of life for farmers and the community through sustainable agriculture – with the Granby Sampler we were able to create a connection between the farmers and the subscribers to the satisfaction of each group. The subscribers shopped more locally and now appreciate and seek local products. Granby as a town is dedicated to preserving open space and farmland—over one third of the town land mass is under one form of preservation or another. The Granby Sampler introduces subscribers to the best, freshest local produce and farm products available.
The grant narrative listed the following milestone for our second year:
-PM collects data and analyzes results of pilot by 12/31/10 Done by date.
-PM makes mid course corrections to Granby Sampler program by 3/31/11 Done by date
-PM prepares methodology and toolkit by 3/31/11 Prepared draft methodology and toolkit to be refined and distributed in early 2012.
-PM, FCC, DL work together on full implementation (same steps as above with adjustments made based on pilot experience) by 12/31/11 We are going forward for the coming year with the Granby Sampler. We believe that with financial support from both subscribers and farmers that it will be self-sustaining.
We worked to address the issues raised during the pilot year for the Granby Sampler. These ranged from trying to accommodate farms with small capacity so that they could maximize their involvement to not having one farm goods vendor secure too much of the Granby Sampler market. For example, a raspberry grower with a limited number of plants might not be able to come up with 50 pints of raspberries over a three day period [Thursday pick up followed by Saturday pick up] but would be able to come up with 25 pints of raspberries on Saturday and another 25 pints the following Thursday. We tried this for the first 5 pickups. The problem was that when some farmers got to Sunday they planned a whole new week and nothing they said the week before carried over. It became twice the work to plan a distribution—occasionally what was available on Saturday was long gone the following Thursday. So we returned to the Thursday followed by Saturday pick up schedule. Not good for the raspberry farmer but better for the program overall.
The other problem we ran into with a larger number of subscribers was the capacity of smaller farmers to provide the desired number of goods. We could have filled the desired number of slots for the year  by having 32 on Thursday and 18 on Saturday. However, 32 were too many for a few of the farms we wanted to participate so we limited the Thursday number to 26.
We continued to hold coordination meetings the weekend between distributions to look ahead and plan the product selection for the next two. We contacted farmers on Monday and finalized the goods on Tuesday. We prepared the handouts on Wednesday and Thursday and held the distribution for the 26 Thursday subscribers from 4:30 to 6:30. The majority of items were delivered by the farmers to the distribution location. The exception was eggs. With 44 subscribers over the two days, I located 44 dozen eggs—some weeks the chickens were more cooperative than others. Saturday distributions were from 10:00-noon.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The greatest impact has been on the local farm economy. In two years we have dedicated more than $45,000. to local farms. With the third year, the figure will exceed $75,000.
Farmers and subscribers alike are enthusiastic supporters of the program. We will have some attrition this year as subscribers who have been involved for two years are resigning to make way for new subscribers. They are our greatest advertisement for both the Granby Sampler and shopping at the local farms. Interest generated by the enthusiastic descriptions of the Granby Sampler from current subscribers assures our short term success. I anticipate reaching 2011 subscription levels and possibly meeting the 50 subscriber goal in 2012.
The Agricultural Commission benefited from its sponsorship of the program. It increased its visibility in the community and its credibility with the Board of Selectmen. The resounding success of the first two years underscores how programs that promote sustainable agriculture in the town of Granby bolster the town agricultural economy and increase the quality of life for the residents.
The town of Granby benefits from the increased viability of its agricultural community. Farmer entrepreneurship is on the rise. New farm stores opened last year and new CSA options are available. While the subscribers revel in the convenience of picking up each distribution, they are also being trained as locavores and share their newfound knowledge. Our subscribers let friends, relatives and neighbors know where to acquire the goods included in the distributions. Each distribution lists the items, a unit price and the source farm’s location. The Agricultural Commission’s website [granbyag.org] gives farm hours and locations.
The tool kit that we are developing reflecting our two years of experience will allow this model to be replicated in other communities increasing the impact of the Granby Sampler.
151 Silkey Road
North Granby, CT 06060
Office Phone: 8604789344
329 North Granby Rd
Granby, CT 06030
Office Phone: 8608440008