- Education and Training: extension, mentoring, networking
- Farm Business Management: marketing management, agricultural finance, market study, value added
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships
Farmers selling commodities are vulnerable to global markets and low prices. One way to reduce this vulnerability is to focus on value-added production. But marketing value-added products to improve farm profitability requires new market skills. An excellent way for farmers to learn these skills is through farmers’ markets. These markets provide a low-cost practice field for farmers, allowing them to test products that, if successful, may enter into other markets. Farmers’ markets are also an excellent way to reconnect consumers with their food system and develop community support for locally grown foods.
This project expanded the awareness of the role farmers’ markets serve in developing marketing skills and promoting sustainable agriculture. Educators gained knowledge of how to use business planning to build successful farmers’ markets. As a long-term outcome of this project, Kansans will invest in local food systems through their purchase decisions, formulation of public policies and creation of economic development plans.
This project trained farmers’ market leaders who in turn acted as educators within their home markets. They served as role models for the less-experienced vendors. In addition, they learned about forming partnerships with community businesses and organizations to enhance their markets. In sum, this project informed and trained a sector of farmers who may not think of themselves as educators but who, through their already-established leadership roles within markets, used their new skills to influence many people in their respective communities.
Farmers’ market leaders were trained in seven conferences. These conferences provided an overview of the research, marketing techniques, regulations and management approaches necessary to develop successful farmers’ markets. These conferences directly impacted 494 market leaders, managers and organizers.
This project coordinated 35 mentoring partnerships between master marketers and apprentices. Mentors transferred management and marketing skills to other farmers and market managers.
A business planning curriculum for farmers’ market organizers was developed and delivered to 371 leaders in 28 farmers’ markets. The curriculum was revised through an iterative process based on the evaluations these cooperative markets. Project learnings were disseminated through a national SARE conference, a sustainable agriculture conference in Kansas and through the Kansas Rural Center web site.
1.We will train farmers’ market leaders through holding six conferences over three years. Three hundred-fifty individuals will participate in the six conferences.
2.We will create mentoring partnerships between leaders and less-experienced participants to transfer knowledge. Twelve mentoring partnerships will be organized.
3.We will develop and present a business planning curriculum for farmers’ market organizers, board members, managers and community partners. Twenty-five individuals from four farmers’ markets will engage in business planning for their market.
4.Our project will focus on promoting key project activities and on recruiting participation.