Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture: Alternatives for Processing, Packing, Labeling and Marketing in Internet/Retail Environments

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $58,755.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
John C. Allen, PhD
Western Rural Development Center

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities


    A one day regional train-the-mentor workshop will be presented. We have chosen to use the word ‘mentor’ instead of ‘trainer’ because we envision this program as one which will develop trusted guides or counselors for the agricultural producers to call upon for information and expertise. Wherein a ‘trainer’ is one who trains and imparts information, they do not necessarily develop long-term relationships with their trainees. We propose developing a program which not only encourages but also fosters collaboration between the service providers and the producers where they will each become a resource for the other. The agricultural producers need people with the expertise to educate them on the many facets involved in processing, labeling, packaging, and marketing their products. They also need to be connected with someone who has access to information pertaining to these components and businesses and/or individuals who provide these services. Likewise the service providers are in need of making real world connections with successful agriculture entrepreneurs and those agricultural producers in need of expert guidance.

    To maximize the opportunity for participation by agricultural producers we will attempt to leverage an existing conference for coordination of the regional training. We will approach the organizers of existing annual regional agriculture conferences/workshops and ask for permission to offer a pre- or post-conference training workshop available to both service providers and agricultural producers.

    We have identified the following annual conferences as potential partners for the proposed training workshop. This list is not complete and serves only to illustrate the regional opportunities which exist for partnering and maximizing attendance at the proposed training workshop. These include:
    Farm Direct Marketing Conference
    Diversified Agriculture Conference
    Southwest Marketing Network Conference

    Additionally, we will sponsor a ‘munch and mingle’ networking reception immediately following the training workshops to encourage interaction between service providers and agricultural producers.

    The workshop mentoring teams will consist of paired technical experts and successful agriculture entrepreneurs to capitalize on their combined strengths and expertise. Case studies, presented by real people who have succeeded, will uncover pitfalls, impart valuable lessons, and help define entrepreneurial success. Technical experts will provide another level of mentoring and expertise. This workshop will be video taped and used to create the DVD training video. This will allow for Extension personnel, NRCS and other agricultural professionals to use the DVD in the field with the basic content of each workshop remaining the same, but individual the workshops conducted using the DVD Training video may be customized based on input from regional partners.

    Partnering providers with producers will also serve to begin linking the service providers with the agricultural producers to foster increased information exchange and future opportunities.

    The collaborative partnership participating in this project represented diverse subject matter areas and geographic regions. Collaboratively they presented a new training model in which technical experts are paired with successful sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs to offer mentoring workshops. These partners bring a wealth of technical expertise and practical experience related to business planning, food sales and distribution, and the legal issues associated with entering retail and Internet markets. Team-taught workshops will foster trust and respect, which will lead to powerful new regional resource networks whereby increasing participants understanding and proficiency in sustainable agriculture.

    The partners also bring the organizational capacity required to manage the project and lead sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs in determining specific issues to be addressed through training. Partnering organizations will help secure local Extension training facilities and assist with curriculum production, copying, promotion, etc.

    Workshop Presenters and Topics
    Jim Dyer, Southwest Marketing Network
    Marketing opportunities in local food systems: buy local promotion, farm to school, etc.;
    Organic production and marketing overview with direction to sources of expert guidance;
    Resources for marketing information and assistance;
    Product promotion strategies (local, nutrition, conservation values, etc.).

    Linda Gillmor, Morgan Valley Lamb
    Business planning;
    Customer relations;
    Diversified sales strategies.

    Aaron Johnson, Food Innovation Center, Oregon State University
    Effective August 1, 2007 Dr. Johnson will be at the University of Idaho.
    New venture creation process;
    Retail and Internet marketing.

    Eric Hawley, Utah State University
    eCommerce overview of technology

    Kim Leval, Center for Rural Affairs
    Effective October 1, 2007 Ms. Leval will be at the Rural Development Initiatives, Inc.
    Farm Bill programs and other funding sources for new marketing ventures and small business development;
    The value of peer-to-peer sharing; shared leadership;
    Resources for sustainable agriculture education and outreach.

    Barbara Rasco, Washington State University
    Food safety and processing;
    Development of profit- added products;
    Regulatory issues.

    Project objectives:

    We will target extension faculty, USDA Rural Development, NRCS, and other USDA agency personnel, non-profit organizations, grocer associations, banking institutions and other federal, state, and private agricultural professionals. In addition, the DVD training video will be available for extension personnel and faculty, USDA Rural Development, NRCS, and other USDA agency personnel, non-profit organizations, grocer associations, banking institutions and other federal, state and private agricultural professionals.

    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.