Building Professional Support for Institutional Purchasing – Buy Local Campaign Programs

Project Overview

ENE04-087
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $124,376.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $15,761.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Kathryn Ruhf
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), peaches, pears, berries (strawberries)
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy

Practices

  • Education and Training: decision support system, mentoring, networking, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, urban/rural integration, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    This two year professional development program will build the capacity of 100 Northeast Cooperative Extension Agents and sustainable agricultural professionals to assist farmers, food service directors, student groups, faculty, and others in the development of institutional purchasing projects and/or ‘buy local’ campaigns (IP/BLC projects) using resources, tools, contacts, and strategies learned through the program. Agricultural professionals trained in the nuts and bolts of IP/BLC projects can play an important role in catalyzing these initiatives, increasing their odds of success, and ultimately improving the economic viability of farmers in their region. This proposed PDP project will be designed and implemented by a team of organizations with a wealth of relevant experience and resources. The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is well versed in the barriers and strategies for the success of institutional purchasing projects. FoodRoutes Network’s (FRN) expertise lies in coordinating ‘Buy Local’ campaigns by providing the communications tools, networking opportunities, market research and information resources needed to build broad support IP/BLC efforts. NESAWG contributes extensive experience managing projects of this scale, familiarity with the region, and capacity to efficiently coordinate outreach, training events, and logistics. The agricultural professionals and producers involved in IP/BLCs will guide the essential project elements including: research and development of a training manual; design and implementation of eight professional development workshops; development of action plans by workshop participants; provision of technical assistance to participants via a Project Network; and evaluation. In addition to CFSC, FRN and NESAWG, the Project Team includes Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), Cooperative Extension agents in Massachusetts and New York, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), and two producers.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 100 Extension and other agricultural professionals who participate in the first training workshop, 70 will demonstrate increased knowledge and skills to facilitate and foster institutional purchasing and/or buy local campaign projects. Sixty four per cent of those will initiate, assist with or participate in such projects.

    We will know we have reached this performance target by:

    Documenting gains in participants’ knowledge and skills after each training event using two or more assessment tools;

    Documenting development of 70 participants’ action plans by that identify stakeholder groups; seek out collaborators; investigate feasibility; and/or facilitate or initiate such projects in their region;

    Documenting effective implementation of 45 participants’ action plans and gauging the impact of their involvement through feedback and data collection by Project Team members during consultations, and surveys of participants and identified stakeholders disseminated six months after the second workshop.

    As a consequence of this project, participants will be prepared with appropriate information and tools to facilitate or otherwise assist stakeholder groups to carry out institutional purchasing and/or buy local campaign projects in their areas, thereby building their capacity and the capacity of clients to strengthen farm viability and local food systems.

    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.