- Fruits: melons
- Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cabbages, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), peas (culinary), peppers, tomatoes
- Crop Production: windbreaks
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, cooperatives, marketing management, risk management
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, soil stabilization, wildlife
- Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, disease vectors, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, row covers (for pests), smother crops, trap crops, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures
The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and its partners worked with two farmer groups to assist in forming marketing cooperatives in two rural areas of the state. ASAN worked with the Star of the Black Belt Cooperative, a group of farmers located in west-central Alabama, and River Road Agriculture, a group of eight farmers located in southeast Alabama. The project funded some supplies and a part-time marketing coordinator for each group to assist in developing profitable direct markets for their produce.
In Alabama, 45% of its 4.5 million people live in rural areas of the state, compared to an average of 20% nationwide (U.S. Census, 2000). Typical models of successful direct marketing have focused on marketing in urban areas, especially those with relatively high levels of income. In Alabama, many small farmers are located far from these potential markets in areas with high levels of poverty. By pooling resources to coordinate transportation and marketing, smaller producers can more efficiently tap into markets that can offer a higher price for their products. The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and its partners work with cooperatives and marketing networks around the state to assist in making these groups work.
Initial objectives, 2005
ASAN and its partners will use SARE funds to create a seasonal position of marketing coordinator for the next two years and provide start-up supplies for members of the network. The coordinator will work to assess produce availability from participating farmers, take orders from local restaurants, and collect and distribute produce and payments. The coordinator will also work as a liaison between buyer and seller, receiving feedback on the quality of the produce and requests for new products. Beginning with a few restaurants that have been enthusiastic buyers, we expect to create a structure for group produce sales. After two years to develop and grow this structure, we hope to have enough growers and buyers to create an official marketing cooperative with a democratic decision-making process and producers as owners. We can then use this project as a model for other growers attempting to work together to market their products.
Revised objectives, 2007
Collaborate with the leadership of the southwest district of the Alabama State Baptist Convention to demonstrate the production of sustainable food at the rural community level and the marketing of such within the larger urban congregations.
Establish sustainable food production demonstration sites, working with rural churches and other farm organizations. These sites will demonstrate production methods for sustainable fruits and vegetables, including the use of drip irrigation and organic and plastic mulches. We will use SARE and NRCS EQIP funds to provide some supplies for the demonstration sites.
Provide continuing education at the demonstration sites, link new farmers with experienced farmers to act as mentors, and provide information on other educational opportunities and scholarships for producers. ASAN will provide these services as part of their regular programs.
Collaborate with the larger congregations to develop a produce subscription program. The SARE SCI marketing coordinator funds will be used to develop this aspect of the program.