Farm City Market Basket (FCMB)

Project Overview

FNC01-359
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2001: $5,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $6,737.00
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Will Allen
Growing Power, Inc.

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, figs, citrus, grapes, melons, pears
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, parsnips, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bees, poultry

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing - continuous, free-range
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, networking
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, compost extracts, prevention
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, community services, sustainability measures

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    I have a 100 acre farm in Oak Creek, WI. There, I grow a variety of crops emphasizing greens. At the Growing Power Community Food Center, I grow salad mix, greens, herbs and a host of other crops. The Growing Power Community Food Center is a training facility to develop community food systems. It has an active urban farming demonstration component on what is, according to Alderman Don Richards, the last remaining farm in the city of Milwaukee.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
    Project goals:
    Farm City Market Basket (FCMB) is an alternative marketing system delivering bushel boxes of freshly grown produce and other agricultural goods on a weekly basis to community based sites serving neighborhood residents. It addresses the economic need for connecting rural agricultural producers to urban markets. The objectives included to:
    - Sustain the economic viability of small operations.
    - Provide freshly grown produce to inner city areas of Wisconsin
    - Educate the public on the value of supporting locally grown food
    - Train inner city youth and adults in food distribution and marketing

    Process:
    As a producer practicing sustainable methods, I know one of the major challenges to keep my farm going is to make sure I have a market for my crops. As the Co-Director of Growing Power*, I know that most people do not understand what producers go through to keep their farms running.

    This grant from SARE helped to develop an educational component to our FCMB Program. FCMB provides a link between producers and urban markets. Yet, the two still need to know more about each other and each other’s issues. This grant supported communication between consumers and producers. We produced newsletter inserts for the market baskets that described various vegetables and how to use them.

    I decided this was important because we learned that many people did not know how to cook fresh vegetables and therefore did not buy them. The farmers appreciated these newsletters.

    *A not for profit organization and land trust, supporting people from diverse backgrounds and the natural systems they live in through the development of community food systems.

    People:
    Pat Leavenworth, WI NRCS State Conservationist has been a continual support. She is always interested in the community outreach work that we do.

    Results:
    1) Desired outcome:
    20 producers will economically benefit by direct marketing their crops to urban consumers:
    Activity:
    FCMB newsletter produced and disseminated to producers and consumers
    Evaluation Indicators:
    Number of Farmers increasing their weekly cash flow
    Measurement:
    Survey producers on the economic impact of FCMB on their farming operation

    2) Desired outcomes:
    20 producers will increase their capacity to practice environmentally sustainable farming methods.
    Activity:
    FCMB newsletter produced and disseminated to producers and consumers
    Evaluation Indicators:
    Number of farmers maintaining sustainable farming operations
    Measurements:
    Surveys of producers on the environmental impact of FCMB on their farming operation.

    3) Desired outcomes:
    250 Market Baskets will be sold in Milwaukee
    Activity:
    FCMB newsletter produced and disseminated to producers and consumers
    Evaluation Indicators:
    Quality of life will be increased for central city residents
    Measurements:
    Survey of consumers on the community impact of FCMB participation.

    4) Desired outcomes:
    10 youth will increase their knowledge and understanding of community food systems.
    Activity:
    FCMB newsletter produced and disseminated to producers and consumers
    Evaluation Indicators:
    Number of youth participating in the operations of FCMB
    Measurements:
    Interview participating youth on their perceptions of food systems.

    Discussion:
    We learned that many producers work together to increase their marketing capacities, it generates positive effects for everyone. Decreasing the need for marketing on the farm and depending on the market basket as a secure strategy has greatly benefited each producer. Challenges have been to get the product to Milwaukee but the producers don’t seem to mind. It seems to serve their community relations and service missions. The market basket a program is a community effort. It can not be done by one individual producer. So a challenge to replicate this program would be if only one producer wanted to do it. Producers really have to join together and have other folks involved to pack the baskets and distribute them to make it work. It’s a whole system. If one part of the system is weak, the producers would suffer. The market sites have to be established. I would definitely recommend this program to others and would be glad to share our results.

    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.