- Crop Production: food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens
The “Gathering” has built a strong coalition of community level leaders, volunteers, and small businesses. Through the coalition’s effort, over 550 entrepreneurs in an eight county region, (six Tennessee Counties and two Kentucky Counties) have been involved. We have identified issues, created community brochures and banners, offered opportunities (meetings, tours and special events) and further developed a community kitchen to enhance and sustain businesses. There have been ten issues of “Sustainability Makes Cents” Newsletter published. “This is the best newsletter that I have ever received,” said Jerry Martin with Santa’s Place and Tree Farm. The Gathering Library has been created.
Identify and Prioritize Issues Facing Homestead Businesses
County Extension Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Staff will identify and prioritize issues facing area homestead businesses, entrepreneurs, organic and other growers wanting to process foods in Montgomery County and 5 Tennessee and 2 Kentucky Counties that join us. The project will encourage and foster a sustainable community where individual families can benefit from economic development. Rather than duplicating efforts, we will work together as a coalition, sharing ideas and responsibilities. County Extension FCS Agent will act as the lead representative in the planning and implementation of a two year initiative, working closely with multiple partners to secure additional training for Agents, create a coalition, and increasing awareness of the issues as well as funding needs. Project Partners will include representatives from the surrounding County Extension Agriculture/Family Consumer Science/Youth staff, Tennessee State University Small Farm Agent, Five Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Council, County Community Resource and Development Committee, Environmental Advisory, Austin Peay State University/Small Business Development Center, Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperation, Family and Community Education Organization, Smith Trahern Mansion, Director of Clarksville Office of Housing and Community Development, County Government representative, Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Herb, Organic and other small producers. We will see that they have the opportunity to build close relationships with others who are working on similar or related ideas with an opportunity to create marketing for multiple products. We will educate about food safety certification, regulatory requirements, marketing, packaging, insurance, product development, requirements for organic and other issues of micro food producers. We will encourage product enhancement with the use of regionally grown and organic foods, increase opportunities for area residents to have locally grown, organic and processed food increasingly available. We will further identify the entrepreneurs that have a need to use a community kitchen facility or further develop their domestic kitchen. We will buy one commercial mixer, which is the greatest need of clients identified at this time. These first clients are women and minorities bakers who have limited resources and are not able to build their own commercial kitchens/have reasons that their home kitchen could not be certified at this time. We will keep in contact with micro businesses through group meetings, e-mail, personal contacts and “Sustainability Makes Cents,” a new joint newsletter initiative. We will offer two annual “Gathering Event Days” to showcase products (offer educational programs and where products can be sold), work with program partners to offer sites where local products can be sold and help further develop other markets. Work closely with Homestead businesses we want to increase awareness of the general public and program partners about the safe food, availability of locally grown and processed foods and other products, the economic benefits, local environment and enhancing the quality of life in the local community. We will find a public space and create a resource library for small food and Agriculture based businesses with resources that we already have and secure more information.
1. Secure training of two major cooperators to visit additional food processing kitchens and sites for homestead business promotion and production. There was so much gained from the initial tour of the Jubilee Project’s Clinch Powell Kitchen.
2.Develop 34 additional coalition members to make 50 key leaders working together (with the goal of having 3 or more coalition members per county that would like to join-in, providing opportunities for coalition members to meet together and provide training of these key players and community partners.
3.Locate other interested entrepreneurs, small/organic farmers and people with an interest in homestead economics and promote the “Gathering.” So often a small business may be just on the county or state line and can not participate on the other side of the line. We want to remove barriers by not stopping at the county line, but to extend possibilities for involvement and benefit from the surrounding counties and state.
4.Publish joint newsletter with program partners and surrounding counties called “Sustainability Makes Cents”.
5.Increase the availability of books and computer programs as resources on food safety, food storage, organic and marketing, etc. by creating a small shelf library at a convenient location. By collecting resources that are available at no cost and further sharing books and periodicals.
6.Help people with a micro food or food related processing business idea by holding bi-monthly gatherings of entrepreneurs to network, further develop strategies, receive researched based information, hear success stories and address issues of concern (insurance, taxes, packaging).
7.Establish a healthy market for local food processors and other homestead business by creating additional markets, partnering with two annual seasonal events and develop one stop site where all area products can be purchased and contributing to a healthier economy.