Formalizing Partnerships to Scale-up Value-added Local Food in Rural Ohio
Glass Rooster Cannery (GRC) received a SARE grant in hopes of partnering with local farmers to scale up production of value-added products using excess produce. The goals included keeping good produce from being wasted while providing farmers with an additional source of income. The grant helped us to purchase a 40 gallon steam jacket kettle and supplies to jar our products. We imagined that saving 1,200 lbs. of produce would be a realistic goal for the first year.
We began partnering with farmers in late July with the onset of cucumbers. Ultimately, seven farmers participated in our program, and we turned away over a dozen others. These farmers brought us approximately 12,000 lbs. of produce, resulting in about 5,000 jars. Midway through the year, we connected with a livestock farmer, who uses the waste to feed her pigs.
The overwhelming response to our project demonstrates that there is a huge need in our area to provide an outlet for excess produce. We expect to continue this project next year, adjusting our choice of recipes to manage the use of our steam jacket kettle more effectively. In the future, we may scale up our facility with additional equipment, allowing us to partner with additional small producers in our area.
January – May 2016
- Create signage to promote GRC, home preservation trainings, and farm market. This goal was completed in April with help from a local printer.
- Update website, social media, brochures and other outreach materials to reflect GRC’s enriched capabilities via SARE grant. Goal completion date: May 20, 2016
- Outreach to local producers via signage, website, social media, and brochures. We contacted two local farmers; OEFFA also referred farmers to us.
- Outreach to local consumers via signage, website, social media, and brochures. This measure is in process, and continues to be a key goal. In addition, we have contacted local retailers for additional opportunities to market the products.
- Promote and explain farm market concept to producers and consumers. The farm market concept was abandoned after the fourth market. This decision was made based on the overwhelming response of farmers to our first goal, creating a value-added product, and the lack of attendance at the market.
- Obtain commitments from local producers to co-create value-added products with GRC. We ultimately received commitments from seven local producers.
- Purchase supplies and equipment for canning season. Supplies and equipment were secured early in the season.
- Update licenses for expected products.
- Continuously gauge community and producer needs regarding desired and feasible product offering
- Track number of new producers engaged
- Track number of new social media followers and website hits. We doubled our social media hits this season.
June – October 2016
- Harvest crops at GRC
- Offer kitchen as resource to producers to create a value-added product to be shared for sale by the producer and GRC
- Train producers in preservation methods. we found that it was much more efficient to create product using our trained staff; we will discontinue this effort next season.
- Use newly-purchased steam jacket kettle to increase volume of value-added product created
- Commence twice-monthly farm market at GRC. This goal has been discontinued based on the popularity of producing value-added products in combination with low attendance at the markets.
- Produce share with participants on Tuesdays to create to-go meals ready for sale at Wednesday markets. Also discontinued.
- Track number of ongoing producer participants at twice-monthly farm markets
- Track number of community members in attendance at farm markets
- Track number of new producer partnerships created
- Track number of new types of value-added products co-created by producers and GRC. Using our existing license, we created over two dozen value-added recipes.
- Track sales of GRC shared-label products at farm markets and local stores. Farmers have reported great success in selling their value-added product at market. One farmer opted to donate their value-added product to an inner-city school.
October – December 2016
- Apply for SARE 2017 grant to build on knowledge gained through 2015 grant
- Continue outreach, social media and website updates, and general advertising for GRC products and events
- Continue partnerships with producers and creation of value-added products
- Prepare final SARE report
March, 2016: Connected with 451 Spirits to use their smoked apple, a by-product of the distilling process, to create 105 jars of smoked apple barbecue sauce.
May, 2016: Connected with Granny B Farm in Centerburg, Ohio to use leftover asparagus to create 60 jars of pickled asparagus.
June, 2016: Connected with Flying J Farm in Johnstown, Ohio to use leftover cucumbers to produce 400 jars of pickles and relish and 60 jars of pickled beets.
July 2016: Connected with Hendron Family Farm Market to use ongoing amounts of leftover produce. Items created include peachalope Preserves, watermelon jelly, pickles, strawberry pie filling, blueberry-pineapple pie filling, pickled beets.
July 2016: Connected with White Barn Organics to create 160 jars of tomato products.
September 2016: Connected with Nature’s Organics Farm to produce 100 jars of tomato product.
October 2016: Calculated approximately 12,000 lbs. of produce rescued from the compost bin, resulting in approximately 5,000 jars of value-added product.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The impact of this project has been positive. Farmers have reported receiving additional income from the value-added product created from their in-between market produce, more visibility with dual labeling, and an overall sense of gratification in being able to use that which was previously being composted.
We expect our income to increase year round from the additional product we have available for second party markets. This has also helped us to consider our direction for the future which will probably include honing in on the value-added piece of our business plan and using our own gardens for teaching and demonstration instead of full production.
Flying J Farm
5329 Van Fossen Road
Johnstown, Ohio 43031
Office Phone: 740-817-3602