Using USDA Local Foodsystems Toolkit to Assess and Implement the Best Cooperative Direct Marketing for an Existing Local Food Group to Increase Local Sales

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2017: $21,850.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Good Turn Farm
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (other), berries (strawberries), grapes, melons, pears, plums
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, okra, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), rutabagas, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: ginger, herbs, native plants
  • Animal Products: honey, meat
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms, syrup, cut flowers


  • Education and Training: networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, feasibility study, market study, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, food hubs, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, social networks


    Our existing Lake Pepin Local Food Group utilized the USDA Local Foodsystems Toolkit to help guide our discussions on moving forward cooperatively to increase local sales of produce from participating farms to restaurants, institutions and individuals. Without economic expertise in our group, we hired a consultant, Ken Meter (Crossroads Resource Center), to provide guidance in our decision making process. We created a thorough review of online sales platforms to share with other farmers and chose one platform to use cooperatively as a group in our area. As part of this cooperative marketing we offered a training workshop for the participating farmers in our area on selling wholesale (pack standards) and our chosen online sales platform, Local Orbit. During the growing season of 2018 we implemented the online sales platform and worked to cooperatively market products from the Lake Pepin Local Food Group. 

    Project objectives:

    The Lake Pepin Local Food Group wants to increase the volume of local produce sales in our area using the sustainable agriculture practice of direct marketing. We used the new USDA local foodsystems toolkit (“Economics of Local Foodsystems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments, and Choices”) to help guide our group in making the best decisions for moving forward1.


    At this point, we believe that utilizing an online platform to streamline direct to consumer sales and cooperative deliveries is the best way for us to increase the volume of produce sold locally. As we started this project, there was an overabundance of online sales platforms to choose from. After working through the Local Food Systems Toolkit and consulting with an experienced local foods economist, Ken Meter, we chose to utilize an online sales platform as well as two local farmers markets to increase cooperative local marketing. As part of that process we researched currently available sales platforms, summarizing the different models, and decided which was the best fit for our unique local food system.

    We implemented the online sales platform and two markets in the summer of 2018. We are working to make sure connections with consumers are strong through marketing materials, individual meetings, and continued support during the implementation of the sales platform.

    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.