Adding Value to Small-farm Produce by Processing and Freezing Vegetables and Fruit

Project Overview

FNC18-1133
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $22,500.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2019
Grant Recipient: Pat & Rachel's Gardens
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. James Leek
Pat & Rachel's Gardens

Information Products

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (other), berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits, okra, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, butternut squash

Practices

  • Crop Production: food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens, food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, marketing management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs

    Summary:

    According to ATTRA, the percentage of each food dollar that is received by the farmer has been declining for a century. In 2017 a farmer earned only $.17 of every food dollar. A farmer earned 190% more in 1980($.33). Most of the food dollar goes to marketing, processing, and distribution. Past SARE grants have explored value-added products as a way for farmers to earn more of that food dollar. This proposal addresses value-added processing, which adds safety risks and numerous hurdles for the farmer such as traceability, labeling, procurement of equipment, and marketing.

    Pat & Rachel's Gardens LLC, in cooperation with Fresh Farm HQ Cooperative Association (FFHQ), proposes to identify simple-to-process, high-demand, fruit and vegetable products and test them in three markets: farmer's markets, grocery stores, and institutional buyers. Pat & Rachel's Gardens is a certified organic producer and processing facility dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices. The facility is a “sub hub” for FFHQ, where product from ten members is aggregated. As a group of farmers, we are dedicated to finding ways to increase profitability by providing a venue for farmers to process excess crops, extend their selling season, and make quality, locally-grown produce available year round.

    Project objectives:

    1. Interview FFHQ Buyers and Farmers for ideas for value-added
    2. Select five easy-to-process, high-demand vegetables
    3. Select two easy-to-process, high-demand fruits
    4. Define Kansas and Missouri food safety regulations for chosen items to be processed
    5. Define processing means required for each product
    6. Determine additional equipment needed to process, freeze (if necessary), package, label and track selected products
    7. Procure needed additional tools and supplies to produce identified products for test
    8. Market identified products to Farmer's Markets, our grocery stores, and our current institutional/corporate clients
    9. Report findings through conferences, fact sheet and website
    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.