Expanding Opportunities for Sustainable Small Farm Specialty Crop Producers: Training Educators in Feasibility Analysis, Marketing, and Community Building

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $74,980.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Glenn Muske
North Dakota State University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, peas (culinary), radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, pasture fertility
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter, composting, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, analysis of personal/family life, community services, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Locally grown is of growing interest to producers, consumers, and to a variety of other entities such as restaurants, schools and super markets. In order to meet this growing demand, producers and those assisting producers call upon individuals and agencies with agriculture, business, and nutritional expertise to provide advice and guidance. The individuals called are often Extension agents, employees of Ag Experiment Stations, vocational agricultural instructors, Resource Conservation and Development coordinators or other others employed by other agencies such as economic development agencies. Often, however, these individuals feel unqualified in addressing questions of how to move a product to market profitably, marketing methods, or building community support and policies for such efforts whether the desired market be local or on a broader regional scale.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will focus on expanding the knowledge, skills and confidence of educators and support agencies called on for assistance. As these individuals feel better equipped, the spinoff will be: 1) increased numbers of small specialty crop producers assisted; 2) more products moving into the marketplace; 3) an expanded marketplace; 4) greater use of more and varied marketing tools either alone or in cooperative ventures; and 5) greater use of sound food safety practices at all levels. Accomplishment of these desired outcomes will come through: 1) three face-to-face trainings; 2) the development of supporting resources, a “toolbox,” for educator and producer use; 3) participant mini-grants for implementation work at the local level; and 4)evaluation effort forming a case study in expanding local foods demand and supply.

    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.