- Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (other), berries (strawberries), grapes, melons
- Vegetables: asparagus, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, greens (leafy), onions, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
- Additional Plants: trees
- Animals: bovine, fish, poultry, shellfish, swine
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: extension, workshop
- Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, market study, whole farm planning
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems
This project will prepare extension agents and other agricultural professionals to work with small-scale farmers interested in developing new marketing relationships with restaurants, grocery and wholesale buyers. These retailers are interested in acquiring local products local products but find it difficult to find growers with commercial business skills needed to supply their demand. An advisory committee of extension agents, specialists, and farmers will be formed to develop a training curriculum and retail readiness materials. The summary of the best practices and buyers requirements will be posted on NCSU and NCA&T website. The institutional buyers’ requirements will be compiled from personal interviews into a marketing manual. In addition to the buyers’ survey summary, the manual will include procurement methods, packing and labeling, pricing, invoicing and delivery, insurance and risk management, quality assurance, GAPs, audits, certifications, marketing strategies and planning and sample documents. The marketing information will be presented in the three NC A&T extension district workshops to help 100 extension agents working with small-scale farmers develop the standards and expectations, record keeping, food safety, and buying practices as well as to develop their marketing plans to meet the requirements of these institutional buyers. To supplement the workshops, two webinars will be offered on selected marketing topics. Buyers and farmers experienced in selling to institutional buyers will be recruited to speak at workshop.Following the training extension agents will be organized into retail ready marketing teams in each extension district.
Project objectives from proposal:
1.Extension agents will understand the requirements for selling to restaurants, grocery and food service buyer, requirement and benefits of GAP certification, as well as post-harvest handling needs of these buyers.
2.After participating in the retail ready workshops and webinars, extension agents and other agricultural professionals will use their new skills to assist small-scale farmer establish new business relationships with restaurant, grocery and food service buyers. The training is based around best business practices identified by buyers in these markets that are actively seeking to engage local suppliers. Extension agents and other agricultural professionals will understand how to incorporate best business practices, GAP certification, post-handling requirements into farmers’ production systems and marketing plans to meet requirements of restaurants, grocery and food service buyers.
3.Market Ready teams will be organized in each of the extension districts that can deliver the curriculum and educational resources to small-scale farmers. Extension agents will use institutional buyers’ marketing manual to help small-scale farmers incorporate best management practices into their marketing plans and implement GAPs needed to sell to restaurants, grocery and food service buyers. The retail ready teams will use the workshop materials posted on the web site to help small-scale farmers develop their new markets. Extension agents will use their new skills and knowledge of buyer’s requirements to help small-scale farmers increase their sales to restaurants, grocery and food service buyers.
4.Buyers from restaurants, grocery and food service business will learn about small-scale farmers’ production systems and how to increase purchases from small-scale farmers, as a result of their new their understanding of small scale farmers and having a pool of potential suppliers of local to their business.