- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, marketing management, value added
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, community services, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures
Farmers in Carroll and surrounding counties, like many farmers nationwide, find their portion of the consumer food dollar continually shrinking. The corporate agricultural model has created an economic climate where most of the value in food products
is added after they leave the farm.
The Carroll County Cooperative Extension office collaborating with Rolling Hills R C& D, Carroll County Farm Bureau and the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee organized the Carroll County Farmland & Rural Preservation Partnership. The Carrollton city government and Carrollton Main Street program established the Cotton Mill Farmers Market to allow local farmers direct market access to consumers. A market was created to bring the local farmer to the local consumer, establishing a personal relationship and allowing the consumer to learn how their food is grown and by whom.
The Cotton Mill Farmers Market has created an outlet for the farmer to sell his products and establish a relationship with the local consumer. This keeps more of the farm profit in the local community.
The market has also provided the consumer with fresher food and a personal connection to the production of his food.
The farmers market has promoted multiple locally grown opportunities within the region to link the agriculture community to the urban, suburban, and business communities and meet a variety of needs.The market has served producers and consumers within a nine-county radius. It has provided a feasible method to sustain local agriculture through increased profit margins, improvements in growing practicies, and shared information in farming and marketing strategies. The market has educated the consumer about the importance of farming to the local economy and community integrity. It also has educated them about nutritious food and the dependence of the community upon agriculture. This interaction has benefited both groups by establishing a link for consumers to the land nd their food.