Fostering Local Foods-Based Economic Development Strategies: Developing New Resources and Networks

2012 Annual Report for ENC11-124

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $74,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Sharon Gulick
University of Missouri

Fostering Local Foods-Based Economic Development Strategies: Developing New Resources and Networks


Progress on key objectives – educational guides/videos/webinars and a statewide conference are well underway.

The guides (called “Quick Bites”) are in the writing stage and will cover topics of need/interest identified through our survey of Extension faculty members and local food producers. We anticiapte having the first set of guides published later this spring. Videos and webinars will be developed once the guides are completed.

Planning for the statewide conference (November 13-14, 2013) is undersay with identification of speakers and project videos being developed.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Our key objectives for 2012 was to develop and conduct a survey of the Extension faculty to determine their individual areas of expertise within regard to local food issues and to also identify areas of recurring customer inquiries for assistance. A survey was also conducted of food producers to determine their needs. That survey was conducted and results were compiled. Out of that came the initial list of topics that we will focus our first round of our “Quick Bites” (How To Guides). A copy of the survey is attached.

Layout and design for the Guides is will underway and we are awaiting approval from Extension Publication on the layout.

The first three guides are in development and we anticipate having them available by Spring 2013.

Planning for the 2013 Conference is also underway. The conference will be held on November 13-14, 2013 at the Bradford Farm on the MU Campus in Columbia. We are working on identifying speakers, a panel of food producers and are beginning the work on creating a series of short videos that will highlight specific projects and initiatives in Missouri related to local foods.


Survey Summary

The “How do I…?” guides outlined in the proposal has been named as a series, “Quick Bites: Information for Food Businesses.” This title may change slightly in the final version as we are getting input from

A survey of the needs of current and potential food producers was developed and tested on participants at the 2012 Missouri Farmers Market Conference. Following the conference the test was revised and an online version was created using Survey Monkey. The link to the survey was disseminated through existing email lists and posts on social media sites. The goal was 100 completed and valid surveys. Once the results were filtered to remove respondents outside the desired target population, the effort netted 114 completed and valid surveys.

Data from the survey was reviewed, as well as data from producer surveys conducted by the Local Foods Linkages Project in Southeast Nebraska and the Northern Ozarks.

Survey responses were grouped into three focus areas:
• Business skills and operation
• Consumer relations
• Food production

Based on the data, the first five Quick Bites guides currently in production are (note that these are topics, not final titles). Drafts of the first three will be completed by the end of February (our timeline was moved back due to faculty changes within our work group).
• Rules and regulations for local food entrepreneurs
• Diversifying by adding value-added products
• Creating a Facebook presence for your small business
• Safe food handling and preservation for food producers
• New market opportunities

Project faculty met with staff at the Extension and Agriculture Information department of the University of Missouri to develop a design for the Quick Bites series, as well as a plan for the best way to make the guides available. Information related to food systems is currently being consolidated onto a new web site within University of Missouri Extension – this will be the primary home for the Quick Bites series, but they will also be linked on other relevant pages. A limited amount of printed copies will be produced for use at events.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • Outcomes to date:
    • Survey of the needs of current and potential food proudcers completed
    • First set of the “Quick Bites” is in the writing and editing stage
    • Planning for the November, 2013 statewide conference is well underway

Information on Project Staffing

While we are a little behind schedule, due to some personnel changes and internal restructuring, the project is now moving ahead and is well on its way to accomplishing our stated goals and objectives.

There will be some changes to participant faculty members due to new assignments and changes in job responsibilities, but the new member coming on the team will be adding a specific set of skills within agri-business that will benefit the project.


Crystal Weber
Community Development Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
Clay County Annex
1901 NE 48th St
Kansas City, MO 64015
Office Phone: 8164073490
Sharon Gulick
Extension State Specialist, Director Community Economic Development
University of Missouri
222 Gentry Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Office Phone: 5738840669
Tish Johnson
Community Development Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
Ste. Genevieve County MU Extension Center
255 Market St
Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670
Office Phone: 5738833548