Creating a service center on our farm for expanding the sale of locally grown foods and local products

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Amanda Hamrick
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Randy Hamrick
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Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, corn, flax, oats, soybeans, wheat
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: networking
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, community services

    Proposal summary:

    Our farm will serve as a local service center for local growers and consumers who seek locally grown foods and products and who seek freshly milled products while increasing consumer interest in the healthfulness of local foods and products - including our own healthy foods raised at our farm. DESCRIPTION Our Farm We own and operate a small farm operation in Southeastern Ohio. Our customer base is just over 120,000 in the Parkersburg/Marietta Metropolitan Statistic area (Mid-Ohio Valley). We attend seven shows per year here in the valley at which we market our products. Sales at a farm stand on our home farm have been increasing this year. We are nearly complete with the construction of building a market at our home farm to expand our sales starting early in 2011. Our number one product is our honey. Other products from the farm include soap, skincare, lip balm, salve and lotion. Lavender and other herbs are grown on the farm to use in these chemical free body products. Our farm is organic as possible, using natural ingredients from our farm in everything we make. We hope to expand our nearly one acre market garden to over one and a half acre to include grains to add to the milling operations. Our Expertise Randy has worked with bees all of his life and is considered a bee expert here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Using information from organic groups and, Randy has developed his own all natural treatment for bees. This stimulant helps to keep bees healthy all year and keeps the hive free of mites and disease. The essential oils help make weaker colonies stronger and encourage the acceptance of new bees. As members of the Mid-Ohio Valley Beekeepers Association, we answer many calls and concerns regarding bees. We also learn from other members in regards to production of bee products. Amanda has personally worked as a marketing expert for several large firms. Her focus was primarily on company profiling, sales, event coordination, consumer education and advertising. Amanda has nearly completed a degree in teaching to expand my knowledge base. Our Community The local community has been a tremendous help in getting our farm business off the ground. We currently work with Marietta College’s graphic arts program. The students in this program are assisting with our company profile – including a logo, color pallet and other elements of our brand. Another local college, Washington State Community College, is working on our website. We act as a resource for local farmers who are interested in selling local foods and other locally made products aimed at health benefits. Our marketing and selling currently includes other products which are locally made and are aimed at health benefits. Our newest work has been with processing grain. We own a small mill with which we process grain or other item for local farmers and/or consumers. PROBLEM/SOLUTION Our Area’s Problem The sales and availability of locally grown foods in our area is hindered by many things, including: • Many new farmers are too small to afford equipment and other necessary tools to provide significant production; • Many small farmers do not have the marketing tools to reach potential customers; • Small and new farmers are limited in their production capabilities due to lack of markets; • Customers have to travel to many different farms to find their desired local foods or local products with health benefits; and • Many crops which requires milling are overlooked due to lack of processing equipment. Why it’s a problem around the North Central Region Smaller communities all over the Region lack infrastructure for local foods. It is difficult for both small/new farms and consumers. Farmers are not sure what to produce and consumers do not know what is available. Size of and number of small farms limits the amount of cooperation and offerings in the area of local foods. Our Innovative Research, Demonstrations and Education 1. We are in the midst of creating a farm store that showcases our farm products and other local foods, products from the area. This grant will assist with a portion of this endeavor. a. We want to expand this to provide basic services to customers who want to mill local grains and promotes other locally grown products from our surrounding area for farmers who are too small to have their own store. b. We want to offer an outlet for other growers who are not big enough to have their own store or marketing campaign to sell their products in a setting similar to what they desire to have on their own farm. 2. Our research will focus on creating a model for a locally grown foods service center located on a farm. This will focus on the following outcomes: a. Number of small/new farms involved in selling/marketing through our farm store; b. Number of small/new farms ‘graduating’ to higher and better sales through their own farm or other outlets; c. Number of consumers buying a significant portion of their food ‘locally’ and d. The increase in total production and sales from our home farm. 1 We are working with other honey and grain producers to help them grow and create value added products which will be sold at our store. 2 We will travel to shows, exhibits and other ‘non-farm’ events in the area to promote our farm store, locally grown foods and our new/small farm partners. This will showcase locally grown foods, sign up customers for targeted marketing efforts, and expand the knowledge of consumers and businesses when it comes to the expansive offerings of locally grown foods in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Additionally, we will work with a local public relations firm to conduct a focus group of local consumers who desire to buy local. RESEARCH • Besides projects completed on cooperatives, there have been no projects we can find in regards to a service center on a farm which serves local farmers and the local foods movement. • We will utilize projects such as “Growing Highly Nutritious Staple Food Crops Using Intensive and Sustainable Agriculture Systems” from 2008; “A Cooperative Small Farm Effort to meet Local Demand for Staple Seed Crops in the Applachian Ohio Region” from 2008 and related small grain growing projects in educating local small/new farms on growing grains on a small scale. • • We will add to these works by providing data from our project at outlined in 2) above, including: • o Marketing channels which best work to reach local customers; • o Consumer data relating to the focus group we will conduct; and • o Number of growers participating in various capacities as outlined in 2) above. • As outlined , in the 2008 project results, “Hands-On Workshops: Alternative Marketing Approaches and Distribution Channels,” we will work to provide marketing information about our farm to local growers to help them plan and improve their marketing. OUTREACH • We will involve OSU Extension in promoting our farm store and linking us with more small/new farmers. a. They will also assist with educational materials, offer classes in the areas of small grain production and assist with evaluating impacts. b. They will assist us in hosting a workshop relating to bee keeping and the production of specialty bee products from our home farm. • We will share the results of our project with the organic/small farm groups in Ohio (Innovative Farmers of Ohio and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.) • We will expand our work with Marietta College and Washington State Community College to reach out to local consumers who want to be more involved in local foods. • We will work with the local Chambers of Commerce and other community groups to support the local foods movement and the promotion of ‘buy local.’ EVALUATION Our Evaluation Process 1. We will record all visits to local shows and events: a. Number of people at event b. Number of customers who give us information c. Number of sales. d. This information will represent what percentage of the audience is interested in local foods. 2. Consumer focus group(s): a. Our work with a local public relations firm will result in a more targeted approach to the marketing of locally grown foods. b. This will outline how, when and where local consumers want our products. c. This will give us and local farmers other information in regards to where and how to conduct marketing. 3. Our farm store: a. We will provide details of the farms working and marketing through our farm store, including general information on amounts sold and variety sold. b. We will encourage ‘graduating’ to higher and better sales through their own farm or other outlets. Any farms doing this will show the expansion of locally grown foods and the proper use of marketing channels. c. Number of consumers buying a significant portion of their food ‘locally’ and d. The increase in total production and sales from our home farm. 5. Customers a. The number of consumers milling their own grain and locally purchased grains will aid in aspects of understanding consumer behavior relating to local foods. b. Use of and acceptance of different marketing methods will assist other new/small farmers.

    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.