- Fruits: berries (other), cherries, grapes, berries (strawberries)
- Vegetables: asparagus, greens (leafy)
- Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, whole farm planning
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, sustainability measures
The changing farm economy has forced many farmers in Kentucky to diversify into non-traditional crops and livestock systems. This trend has in turn led many of these farmers to look for ways to add value to their crop and animal production by taking it through one or more stages of processing prior to the point of sale. Some farmers have built on-farm processing facilities, but many are reluctant or unable to invest in expensive equipment for relatively low volumes of production. This project developed several alternatives, and identified some of the problems and barriers farmers planning to pursue such strategies might encounter. These include complying with health regulations, food safety, labeling, marketing and business plans, and access to capital.
The primary objective of this project was to equip Extension agents and other ag professionals to assist farmers interested in adding value to farm products through processing. Our goal was to familiarize workshop participants with the various levels of small-scale processing facilities, which range from the single-use on-farm permitted kitchen to the shared-use commercial incubator kitchen. We wanted to identify examples of existing facilities and their operators and allow agents and farmers to learn from the experiences gained in the process of establishing and operating them. We planned to include some of these operators in the training design. The successful operation of a food related business can be very complex, requiring a knowledge of the chemistry of food processing, the various laws and regulations involved in food processing, and the challenge of marketing and business planning. We designed our training to be comprehensive, acquainting our participants with a working knowledge of the importance of all these factors.