The Next Step for yourfarms.com- A Local Marketing Cooperative Promoting Local Foods and Local Farms

2007 Annual Report for FNC06-613

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $18,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:

The Next Step for yourfarms.com- A Local Marketing Cooperative Promoting Local Foods and Local Farms

Summary

WORK ACTIVITES
The first $9,000 has been spent entirely on marketing.

FIRST: We have hired Stonewall Marketing Group, Inc. (http://www.stonewallgroup.com/) in our hometown – Marietta, Ohio. This company is nearing completion on the following items for our group:

• The design of an informational web site that includes general information, sections based on categories of products and links to partner organizations.
• Coordination of the hosting of the newly designed site. (YourFarms.com would be responsible for annual hosting fees and initial set up costs ).
• The design and print management of a four color rack card. (YourFarms.com would be responsible for printing costs ).
• Design of web advertisements with direct links to YourFarms.com
• Development of web advertising schedule for 2008.
• Development of a 15 to 20 slide powerpoint presentation for public speaking engagements.

Total Fee: $7,750

SECOND: The other $1,150 has been spent on printing our rack cards. The final draft of the card is attached to the email sent to explain this progress report as a pdf file. The group will have 10,000 rack cards by March 15th to distribute at talks and presentations to area groups about the site and locally grown foods.

RESULTS
The results of the project thus far have been the following:
• We combined the budge items Andrew Jones – Web Development & Logo Development (Brand) and Local Marketing/PR Company – Targeted marketing of the yourfarms.com for one year into one item. Based on information provided by Kelly Dyar, Director of the Marietta/Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Based on past projects done by the bureau and some other research, it was decided our best value for our money was to hire Stonewall Marketing group to do both budget items.
• Our logo has been completed and is being utilized on marketing materials. A copy of the logo sheet completed by Stonewall Marketing Group was attached to the email sent with this progress report.
• We have been featured in the 2008 Visitors’ Guide for the Marietta/Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
• Our business plan has been completed by Pamela Lankford of the Marietta Small Business Development Center.
• The business plan was used to hire Stonewall Marketing Group to plan the design of the website and research advertising possibilities for the group.
• We have met with Marietta Mayor, Michael Mullen, about possibilities for promotions with the new Armory Square project – a project to restore the downtown armory into a ‘community hub’ of activities. This will include an agricultural aspect and help promote locally grown products.

WORK PLAN
Our plan of work for the coming months:
• Finish compiling all pictures and details from farmer members to finish the basic website by April 1.
• Continue to recruit farmers one-on-one to increase membership.
• A detailed mailing has been prepared and will soon go out to our list of 240 direct marketers located in Washington County, Ohio. We have utilized lists from OSU Extension, Washington County Farm Bureau and the Ohio Department of Agriculture to come up with the most comprehensive lists of direct marketers including everything from honey producers to hay sellers and the traditional fruit/vegetable growers.
• Utilize the results of Stonewall Marketing Groups’ suggestions for best advertising values to advertise the site to the general public here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

OUT REACH
• Information about the project is shared each week through Eric Barrett’s “Weekly Agricultural Update.” This is an email newsletter sent to over 300 farmers in the county each week. This newsletter is also shared with media outlets from the Marietta Times to WTAP news. We were part of a story in January 2008 concerning locally grown products on WTAP – the local NBC station.
• Information is posted on the county extension office’s website for farmers and others to learn about the ideas behind www.yourfarms.com
• Handouts about the project have been shared with local officials including the Washington County Commissioners and local mayors. All have been supportive of this cooperative marketing effort.

Ways we plan to share information in the coming year:
• We are planning talks with civic organizations to promote the site (Rotary International (four clubs in the area), Lions Club
• As soon as the site is up we will have press releases sent to a list provided by OSU Extension. This list contains 123 media contacts (from traditional newspapers to church bulletins) to promote the site and the aspects of buying locally grown food and agricultural products.
• At the end of the 2008 growing season (November) we will summarize our promotional efforts, membership numbers, website hits, customer feedback and related items for a newsletter article. We will send this to the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA), Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Ecological Food & Farming Association (OEFFA), Innovative Farmers of Ohio (IFO) and other groups for publication in trade newsletters and magazines.