Developing a Marketing Network for Central Alabama

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Karen Wynne
Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network

Annual Reports


  • 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

    Proposal abstract:

    Alabama’s farmers and ranchers are struggling to make a living; in many areas of rural Alabama low wages, high unemployment and poor health are standard fare. A number of farmers in Alabama are turning to sustainable production methods and alternative marketing options to improve their farms and their incomes. The demand for organically-grown produce in the state is far beyond the current supply. ASAN and its partners will use SARE/SRDC funds to create a part-time seasonal position of marketing coordinator for the next two years. This person will help streamline the current efforts to connect rural growers to markets in the Birmingham area and beyond. With two years to develop and grow this market, we hope to have enough growers and buyers to create a marketing cooperative with a democratic decision-making process and producers as owners. With this program and others, we expect to see an increase in the number of farmers in Alabama taking advantage of alternative markets and more environmentally benign production methods. We hope to help create role models and farmer-trainers in many rural areas. By increasing the number of successful small farmers, we hope to help reinvigorate rural communities throughout the state.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    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.

    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.