Increasing Farms Sales Through Harvest of the Month

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,625.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
linda Phillips
Seeking Common Ground, Inc

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (other), melons, pears
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, carrots, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, cucurbits, radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts


  • Education and Training: extension
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, farm-to-institution

    Proposal abstract:

    This project aims to expand the customer base and increase sales of local farm products through targeted marketing to institutional cafeterias and conventional retailers. Methods include introduction of a listserve providing consistent communication between farmers and food buyers and initiation of Harvest of the Month promotions at local cafeterias and food retailers. Consistent repetition of the buy local marketing message is necessary to change the habits of institutional and retail produce buyers. Results will be measured by listserve participation, meals promoted and served, retail point of sale promotions, and changes in farm sales.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    April 2012 Initial outreach via mail, e-mail, phone, and personal contact to farmers and food service directors currently in our data base to join list serve and participate in Harvest of the Month Spring/Summer 2012 and on-going Weekly or bi-weekly e-mails depending on the season to remind farmers to post product availability. E-mail distribution of consolidated pricing and availability information to facilitate ordering of local produce by food service directors. Event related contact with food service directors regarding Harvest of the Month meal promotions. Spring/Summer 2012 Outreach to area conventional food retailers regarding point of sale Harvest of the Month promotions. Summer/Fall 2012 Provide promotional materials for meal and point of sale Harvest of the Month promotions. Fall/Winter 2012 phone contact with participating food service directors and farmers to assess efforts to date and identify opportunities to further expand sales in the coming year through adjustments in items or quantities grown, targeted availability dates, or on-farm investments. Winter/Spring 2013 Use results of initial season to recruit additional participants to list serve and Harvest of the Month program. Farmer collaborators will be involved in crafting outreach materials and standard listserve formats. They will be involved in recruiting and discussion early in project implementation regarding desired local products and capacity to increase or extend production. They will also pre-test monthly sales tracking formats and question and the end of project survey. Relevant measures of results include number of participants and number of postings on the listserve, number of meals promoted and prepared using local ingredients, number of point of sale local product promotions, and monthly phone tracking of farm sales to new customers and increased sales to existing customers participating in the listserve and/or Harvest of the Month program. An end of project survey of farmers will also be conducted to confirm overall changes in sales volumes and document recent and future sales experience/expectations for institutional and food retailers by category and other farm benefits of program activities.

    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.