“Santa Rosa Fresh” Marketing Assistance
Santa Rosa County, Florida, located in the panhandle immediately east of Pensacola, has 74,459 acres of productive agricultural land, which is 43.2% of its total non-forested landmass. However, approximately 53% of the crops produced in the county are cotton and peanuts, which limits the diversity and sustainability of our agricultural economy. Growing fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, organically grown foods, forage fed beef, etc. would diversify the county’s agriculture and provide a more sustainable agricultural system. In addition, the locally grown food that is available is exported to other regions and it is not available to the residents. Therefore, residents purchase produce at grocery stores that is not locally grown, and the demand for locally grown food exceeds the supply.
The main goal of the Santa Rosa Agribusiness Committee is to build a bridge between the local growers and local consumers of fresh produce. The Committee is using a two pronged approach: first is developing a farmer’s market where the producers can sell their commodities in one centralized location; second is researching alternative markets for locally produced goods, such as building a processing and distribution center that can process locally grown produce for delivery to regional institutional markets.
The grant funds are being used for outreach activities associated with promoting the “Santa Rosa Fresh” concept to create name recognition within the local market. The promotion will educate consumers and make them more likely to purchase locally grown items, and will also promote the sustainability of the local agricultural economy.
The Riverwalk Market and the brand of “Santa Rosa Fresh” had a very successful year. In May of 2003 the market opened up at its new location in downtown Milton, Florida. The Grand Opening was celebrated with a ceremony including producers, local dignitaries, and, of course, customers! To prepare for the opening, Community Innovation Grant dollars were used to advertise on three local radio stations, a billboard was erected, and flyers, signs and a newsletter were prepared and distributed to local businesses. The result was that the farmers consistently sold out of their produce throughout the summer, indicating that the demand is exceeding the supply. A telephone survey was also administered to determine baseline knowledge of the brand name of “Santa Rosa Fresh”, which will be compared to the same survey taken one year later to determine progress on brand familiarity. The website is beginning to be developed and the Committee created a logo and applied for a trademark of “Santa Rosa Fresh” to insure that the brand name is not being used incorrectly.
- Achieve an increase in name recognition of “Santa Rosa Fresh” in the county by 50%, which will be measured through a pre- and post survey of residents with Santa Rosa County.
- Increase local sales of locally grown produce by 25%, which will be measured through an existing baseline producer’s survey and repeating the same survey annually.
- Increase the number of local commercial and institutional establishments using locally grown or manufactured products by 50%, measured through a pre- and post survey of these establishments.
- The first objective was to achieve a 50% increase in name recognition of the “Santa Rosa Fresh” brand. To this end, the Agribusiness Committee completed a telephone survey to achieve the baseline. The survey will be completed again at the end of the growing season to determine change.
- The second objective was to increase the sales of locally grown produce by 25%. During this inaugural season, the Market Master at the Riverwalk Market had each of the growers provide the pounds of produce sold at the end of each day, which will be used as a baseline for this year’s crops. The same information will be collected this year and the comparison will show the change in sales.
- The third objective is to achieve an increase of local commercial and institutional establishments using locally grown produce by 50%. A baseline survey is currently being conducted and it will be conducted again after the growing season to determine the change.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The impacts of this project are far reaching throughout the community. The project as a whole has enhanced the working realationships of several different organizations throughout the county, including city and county governments, educational institutions, agricultural entrepreneurs, and interested citizens. The specific marketing activities included in the grant have helped to educate the public as to the benefits of purchasing locally grown produce, and have helped to bring customers to the newly located market. On most days, the producers sold out at the market, and customers often requested that the market open more days per week. Since the market is growing, the Agribusiness Committee is dilligently working through “growing pains” to help enhance the market for this growing season. Recently a new Market Master was hired to oversee the market, which should greatly enhance the producer’s experience at the market.
Team Santa Rosa
6491 Caroline St.
Milton, FL 32570
Office Phone: 8506230174