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

2014 Annual Report for ENC12-131

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

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


Our Local Foods Leadership Training, as this project has become known as, had a great year. We completed our second training event in March. At that point participants were allowed to submit applications for local projects they wished to undertake. $1500 was the buget guideline we offered. They complete both a budget and a workplan for what they wished to accomplish. Thirteen applicants complete the forms and were funded.

Although the projects could be 2-years in length, ten of the project leaders not only started but completed their project during the summer of 2014. (Two projects will be completed in 2015 and one project application was withdrawn and a new proposal was submitted to be done in April of 2015). An overview of those projects can be found below and at: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/misc-sites/smallbusiness/small-farm-farm-diversification/sare-lflt-reports/2014-summary-report/view

At our winter meeting (Dec. 2014), an overview of accomplishments was offered by team members.  That report can be found below and at: http://www.slideshare.net/glennmuske/participant-sharing-sare-report-dec-2014-3

With funding still available, a second round of local project money was made available. While applications still remain open, seven projects have already been funded:

  • One of the projects is an on-going effort,
  • one is the withdrawn/refocused proposal from round 1,
  • another is a new project for a round 1 participant,
  • four are projects to participants who did not participate in round 1.

Currently, we are trying to get budget numbers calculated so that we can maximize the number of projects we fund. This means trying to get 2014 costs submitted and encouraging new project members.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. This project aims to expand the background, increase the skills and provide a toolbox to those individuals often called upon to answer the questions of the individual expressing the desire to meet the local food demand. Educators will feel more equipped and motivated to work with the small farm specialty crop producer.

 2. To reinforce the skills acquired and to ensure continued project activity, participants will agree to implement local programming that will enhance/expand local foods understanding, use and production either through individual efforts or teams.


All timeline milestones were accomplished. These included:

2nd workshop was held in early March. Topics discussed were farm food safety, distribution of local foods, social media, local foods distritution and opportunities, and making it sustainable.

Applications were accepted for funding. 13 projects were funded.

Resource center was populated with resources and announced to participants.

Because of the excited memembers putting their projects into action, an unplanned initial feedback meeting was held to here what was being accomplished. Education topics covered at the session including enlisting non-farmers for success, netowrking, and resources/funding opportunities.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Planned cohort of 30 participants who will agree to attend all three sessions. Goal is to have 10- 15 Extension educators, 5 -10 other North Dakota educators, and 5 – 10 out-of-state participants.

28 signed up. 12 Extension educators (one from out of state) and 16 ND educators and community leaders – 2013

29 signed up for 2nd session and 30 for third session (informal feedback session (unplanned)

Session handouts and PowerPoint slides – This material will be useful as individuals/teams develop their own local programs.

Handouts provided at workshop. Materials also sent between sessions – 2013

2014 – Again handouts provided plus participants provided material they had produced or were for general information.

Online resource center will be developed and available to all

Started – 2013 – http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/smallbusiness/small-farm-farm-diversification

2014 – Continued and expanded.

Collaboration tool will allow for internal communication among cohort and trainers. Questions can be posted for feedback and ideas. Responses will be summarized and developed into a frequently-asked question section. Goal is to develop a peer learning atmosphere where not only can educators help each other but eventually market managers, institutional and restaurant buyers, and producers will participate in helping drive forward the idea of local/regional foods.

Listserv built to allow for group communication – 2013

2014 – Listserv used on a regular basis with an average of 3 messages per month.



– 86% indicated they had new ideas to strengthen local foods in their community
– 100% said they have more confidence in their ability to follow food safety regulations
– 86% said they had new resources to successfully implment a food safety plan
– 86% said they have new idea on how to share their local food story
– 86% said they had new idea on how to make their project a sustainable business


– 12 project with 15 leaders started and worked on expanding local food efforts
– 1 participant moved from a hobby to a business in providing bedding plants
– 1 farmers market began taking electronic EBT transactions
– 1 farmer tested gluten free crop possibilites in northern climates
– 1 farmers market increased their winter market marketing efforts
– 1 food coop went from the membership drive to the capital campaign drive
– 1 particpant developed a neighborhood effort to have a coordinated plan of growing and sharing vegetables


Dr. Abby Gold

Assistant Professor
North Dakota State University
351 EML
Dept of Food and Nutrition
Fargo, ND 58105
Office Phone: 7012317478