Pocahontas County Marketing Coordinator

Project Overview

CNE11-087
Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2011: $14,175.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Jill Young
Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Fruits: melons, berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), cherries, peaches, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: catch crops
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, farm-to-institution, market study
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, community services, employment opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    In Pocahontas County, West Virginia, over the past several years, interest in locally sourced produce has increased significantly due to a focused effort by community members and local farmers. An AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Amelia Swenson, worked since February of 2010 to identify farmers interested in producing more food, to evaluate local market potential, and to determine farmers’ capacity to meet those markets. In interviewing local farmers, she identified 8-15 farmers who want to produce more food if a marketing coordinator can link them with buyers and transport the produce. In interviewing local buyers, she has found a total 8 restaurants, co-op, and retail outlets committed to purchasing as much local food as is available to them next year. The challenge now is to link farmers and buyers for mutual benefit. To accomplish this, we propose a part-time market coordinator position coupled with production planning. The market coordinator will establish relationships between farmers and buyers and assist farmers with food delivery and distribution. Throughout the project, in order to evaluate success and plan for future expansion, the coordinator will collect data on costs, buyer satisfaction, and opportunities for increasing production and markets for the second year. A successful project will: • Define local market opportunities and encourage production; • Establish a distribution structure; • Increase farmer profits; • Minimize farmer risk; • Increase buyer confidence and satisfaction; and • Contribute to the long-term objective of farmers and the community to see a sustainable local food system. The coordinator for this project will build on Amelia Swenson’s work and expand it. The coordinator will be Joe Heathcock.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will ease the coordination between farmers and buyers by creating a marketing position. Farmers will be able to expand their production without worrying about marketing, and restaurants will have access to a variety of local items with one phone call a week followed by a delivery.

    Weekly sales and purchase records will be kept throughout the growing season, demonstrating total sales. Joe Heathcock will be taking weekly delivery orders with farmers and restaurants and will question participants through out the season on how things are going. These recorded comments paired will raw numbers will give a well-rounded interpretation of the growing records.

    At the November dinner every farmer will receive a record of their weekly sales and be asked to compare to the 2011 and 2012 seasons as a way to see if production had increased with marketing assistance. Restaurants will also receive a record of their weekly purchases and be asked to compare to their 2011 and 2012 local purchases. These results will help to asses the impacts of the marketing position.
    A follow up survey will also be distributed to measure the interest for next year. If an increase in demand and production is reported this will also be a measurable result of the impacts of the marketing position and assist in the expansion of the local marketing for next year.

    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.