Developing a Farm Marketing Association to Support Sustainable Agricultural Enterprises
Tom Puch and Mike Hogan of Carrollton, OH received a 2000 NCR-SARE grant to increase the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the farms in Carroll County, Ohio. The county is located in the foothills of the Appalachian in eastern Ohio which makes it difficult to have grain and dairy operations. The purpose of this SARE project was help the small farms survive by providing them with alternative agriculture markets.
The first phase of this project included the creation of the Carroll County Farm Marketing Association which was a way of educating the area farmers on alternative forms of crops and marketing. This association became the sponsor for the Carrollton Weekly Farmers Market and also aided in the creation of another new farmers market in the county. They helped in the promotion of these markets by providing a new logo and tagline as well as creating banners, flyers, posters, billboards, newspaper advertisements and a website.
The Farmers Market included participation from several people including farm families, local Extension Agents, County Commissioners, 4-H clubs, local churches and non-profit organizations. Customer surveys were conducted throughout the two seasons to determine the likes and dislikes of the consumers.
The success of the market was illustrated as the vendors expanded from 12 to 54 and the money brought in from the market increased from $23K to $82K in only two years. The success of the two markets and the Carroll County Farm Marketing Association has encouraged similar actions in neighboring communities.
This project has not only provided farm families with alternative agriculture products, but has strengthened the community’s knowledge and support of the local food system. This project also improved the local economy by allowing consumers to purchase locally produced goods, which enables the money to stay in the local community. Economic development professionals have estimated that this project has had an impact of more than $574,000 on the local economy based on the increased sales at the farmers market.