Pocahontas County Marketing Coordinator
After lying fallow for 9 months, this project has been revitalized with the hiring of a new project coordinator at the GVEDC, Jill Young. A marketing coordinator, Joe Heathcock, was hired and immediately started work. After background research into current food safety issues, marketing and the Greenbrier Valley Local Food Assessment, Joe coordinated the first producers meeting of the Pocahontas Marketing Group. Twelve farmers and collaborators were contacted about the meeting. Due to weather conditions, only five hardy farmers were able to attend to the meeting. Crop selection, supply, pricing, delivery and marketing issues were discussed. Connections to the Monroe Farm Market online market and Pocahontas Schools were also discussed. Questions were raised and Joe is researching answers. (licensing, food safety, MFM memberships, transportation.) Plans for monthly local harvest dinners were confirmed.
The original work plan designated the fall as an interest gauging and information gathering time. Joe Heathcock has connected with all of the farmers identified as potential participants and confirmed their participation. He is coordinating production plans for 2012. He has also communicated with local restaurants about the groups efforts and confirmed their continued interest.
Despite the long delay in the start of this project, things are going very well now. The enthusiasm of the marketing coordinator has kick started the project. The delayed timing may also have contributed to a real hunger for cooperation and collaboration from the producers. Crop planning for the 2012 year has begun. Joe’s initial contact with the school system coincided with a state effort to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables into the school lunch menus. He successfully led a program at Marlinton Elementary School and is coordinating efforts with a local AmeriCorps volunteer who has been approved to teach food and nutrition in the classrooms. This collaboration with the school system was not in the original work plan, but it is such a natural and positive activity, Joe has added it to his own agenda for the coming year.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
It is too early in the project for any real measured outcomes. The initial meetings with producers have gone well. Increased public interest in locally grown food will nurture increased demand, and more market coordination will increase supply. Anecdotally, the Farm to School connection has been a great surprise and could lead to increased community impact.
Pocahontas County Market Coordinator
P.O. Box 552 Hillsboro, WV 24946
Hillsboro, WV 24946
Office Phone: 3045201548