Increasing profitability: Building consumer preference for chevon through education and outreach
Project goals include:
• Developing simple American-style recipes and recipe cards complete with full nutritional data per serving. A professional commercial food testing laboratory will do the laboratory analysis to generate the nutrient data for each recipe.
• Developing an educational website (www.enjoychevon.com) about the benefits of including chevon in a healthy diet and about cooking with chevon. This website will also include local resource information on where to buy fresh domestic chevon. The website will also serve as a platform to gather consumer information through polls and a feedback forum.
• Developing an educational brochure that summarizes the health-positive aspects of chevon. The brochure will be suitable for healthcare professionals, dieticians, patients, and health-conscious consumers. The brochure will also direct readers to the ‘enjoychevon.com’ website
• Developing educational posters about chevon for use as a display at health fairs, agricultural fairs, and community events. These poster displays will be useful in generating open discussion with the health professional and lay person alike.
• Creating PowerPoint presentations suitable for educational outreach targeting medical personnel, patients, and other healthcare providers. A general presentation targeting consumers will also be designed.
• Writing articles about the health benefits of chevon to submit to the food/health editors of newspapers and to magazines that feature healthy eating.
• Offering samples of the chevon dishes developed during this project at culinary tasting events such as the Great Frederick Fair Cook-off, Future-Harvest-CASA Small Ruminant Field Day, and possibly other regional events.
The primary focus of Many Rocks Farm is performance-based meat goat herd development and breed optimization for commercial goat farming. This remains unchanged. We have concentrated on economically producing a quality meat product. During this past year since the inception of the SARE grant, we have obtained a farm processing license from the state of Maryland. We have partnered with a USDA-inspected meat processor and now offer vacuum-packed frozen goat meat cuts, as well as five different types of goat meat sausage, and original recipe, pre-seasoned goat meat patties for direct sales to consumers, restaurants, and grocery outlets. Having goat meat products readily available for sale is a key aspect to consumer education about the health benefits of chevon. Our meat products are used in preparation of sample dishes for consumers to try and paired with recipes designed to complement each meat product. Many Rocks Farm currently targets regional Farmers Markets and community events as the primary outlet for meat products and educational outreach.
Roles of Cooperators:
Susan Schoenian, Western Maryland Regional Sheep and Goat Specialist, collaborates with Many Rocks Farm on our farming operation and goat herd management program to help ensure overall herd health and vitality. We guarantee a meat product that is free of added hormones, antibiotics, and all manner of pesticides and chemical residues.
Ginger S. Myers, Regional Extension Specialist, Agricultural Marketing, reviews all educational materials produced for this project and also provides input regarding events where chevon-related presentations or product offerings can be made.
Dozens of American-style recipes have been collected and adapted for the use of chevon as the meat ingredient. Several of the recipes have been prepared and offered to different consumer groups as free tastings or prepared food for purchase. Consumer feedback regarding the chevon dishes has been positive and very helpful in further optimization of an American-style goat cuisine. Laboratory testing of select recipes to generate a nutritional analysis profile remains to be done.
The educational website, www.enjoychevon.com, has been developed and is available online. Recipes continue to be added and much more promotion of the website will be done in the coming year.
An educational brochure related to the ‘enjoychevon’ website has been designed and printed in bulk. It contains cooking tips, nutritional information regarding how chevon compares to more traditional meat sources, and three recipes to help the reader get started using chevon in their own kitchens. Included recipes are for Crockpot Chevon Stew, Juicy Skillet Burgers, and a coconut-based Goat Curry. Other brochures showcasing recipes are planned for the coming year.
One set of materials for an educational poster showcasing the health benefits of chevon has been completed. The poster presentation has been used at several events to generate discussion with consumers, some of which are in the health industry.
A PowerPoint presentation suitable for educational outreach remains to be done.
Articles written for submission to food-related publications are targeted for the coming year.
Samples of chevon dishes have been offered through several venues more thoroughly described in the section describing accomplishments below.
Results and Accomplishments:
Development of a line of commercially-available goat meat products from Many Rocks Farm has been very challenging and extremely time consuming. Even though the development of the meat product line was not a specific target of this grant it is acknowledged that without it, the educational program would have suffered greatly due to the fact that chevon is not readily available in most traditional grocery settings in the United States.
Specific accomplishments for the first year under the goals of the grant are:
• In May of 2008, Many Rocks Farm participated as a food vendor during the three-day Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. This event was established in 1973 and is the largest of its kind in the United States. It now draws a crowd in the range of 100,000 enthusiastic festival–goers each year. Many Rocks Farm was chosen as the first and only goat meat vendor to ever participate in the Sheep and Wool Festival. Fiber goats (Angora and Cashmere) are represented as well as sheep at the festival. We offered a goat meat chili plate served with chips and various toppings. On display at our booth was a large poster comparing the nutritional content of chevon (derived from the 2008 USDA Nutrient Database) along with that of beef, pork, chicken, and salmon. Although chevon is higher in protein and much lower in fat and cholesterol than lamb, that data was not presented due to the nature of the festival. The nutritional poster encouraged a wide range of discussion with a very diverse population of consumers. Many people tried chevon for the first time at this event. Feedback regarding the taste and quality of the goat chili dish was extremely favorable. This provided confirmation of what we already believed about cooking with chevon!
• The educational poster was also used throughout the 2008 season of the Brunswick Farmers Market (Brunswick, MD). Many Rocks Farm was a vendor at this market. We obtained licensing from the county health department to serve free taste samples of goat meat which we did on multiple occasions. Recipe cards were also given out. Through nutritional education, tasting, and cooking information, chevon found its way to the kitchens of many new consumers in 2008.
• On September 11, 2008, Future Harvest-CASA held a small ruminant twilight workshop at Many Rocks Farm. Future Harvest members and other interested people from the local community attended to hear about our goat farming operation and to learn about the development of Many Rocks Farm goat meat products. Goat chili was served to all the participants. Recipes for many goat dishes were available. Some participants took home recipes and their first supply of goat meat for the freezer.
• On October 22, 2008, Many Rocks Farm was invited to participate in a private farmers market sponsored by Discovery Communications Corporation. Several hundred Discovery Channel employees came by our booth to get recipes and learn about chevon. Free samples of a delicious pasta and goat chorizo sausage casserole were served. Many people were surprised that chevon was so lean and high in protein and iron.
• On October 23, 2008, Jeanne was invited to make a presentation to the University of Maryland Extension leadership and Maryland county agents in a workshop focusing on the role of Extension in rural economic development. Goat chili was served. Many issues and challenges facing new ‘agripeneurs’ were discussed.
• January 29, 2009, Many Rocks Farm was invited by the ‘Maryland’s Best’ program run by the Maryland Dept. of Agriculture to participate in a Buyer-Grower meeting in Annapolis. We had an educational booth showcasing the health benefits of goat meat. It was a great networking event bringing the Dept. of Agriculture together with farmers offering value-added products, chefs, and buyers from grocery store outlets.
• On March 11, 2009, Many Rocks Farm is a presenter at the ‘Processing for Profits: Moving from Concept to Consumers’ workshop sponsored by the Western Maryland Research and Education Center. This event will bring together University personal, state and national regulatory officials, and local farmers. The workshop is being held in Upperco, Maryland. Jeanne has been invited to present about the chevon SARE project and the development of chevon value-added products.
• March 14-15, 2009, Many Rocks Farm will have an educational booth at the Home and Garden Show held at Hagerstown Community College. This is a heavily attended event and it will be a great opportunity to discuss all the positive things about chevon with many consumers.
• The brochures created in this project promoting the EnjoyChevon website and the nutritional benefits of chevon are available at the educational booth run by the Vocal Locals (an area group of farmers and consumers promoting fresh, local food) which is part of the Hagerstown City Market.
• Many Rocks Farm will be promoting chevon products in a special ‘goat’ night being organized by the Washington County, MD. Agricultural Marketing Office. The event will be held during Ag Expo (Washington County Fair) in July.
• Many Rocks Farm is also to be part of regional farm tours in Spring and Fall of 2009. People will visit the farm and learn about chevon and cooking with chevon as part of their farm experience.
• Many Rocks Farm will be a vendor during the 2009 Farmers Market season at the Freshfarm Market in Silver Spring, MD. This is located on the east side of the D.C. Metro beltway. It is a very large market and the benefits of chevon in the American diet will be promoted heavily throughout the season.
Site Conditions Affecting the Project:
There are no significant changes specific to the farm that are affecting the results of this educational project.
It has been discovered that a good educational presentation about the health benefits of chevon does indeed encourage a lot of people to ask questions and often give chevon a try. It also attracts individuals working in the health field, particularly those involved in heart health and diabetes. Many more people end up trying chevon as a result of the educational effort than ever would have been convinced to try the product without any form of education.
Many Rocks Farm has increased sales of chevon meat products. These include traditional goat cuts, goat sausage, and seasoned chevon patties.
It was also determined that printing of recipe cards could be done much less expensively using the online printer VistaPrint (www.vistaprint.com). Quality is acceptable and many more cards can be printed for the same amount of money charged by local printing sources. Some initial rounds of brochure printing has been done for the project through available funds at the Washington County Agricultural Marketing Office. Many Rocks Farm is grateful for their support and contribution toward completion of this project.
Response from consumers during the first year of the project has clearly indicated that traditional American consumers are very interested in finding new sources of heart-healthy meat products. Chevon is a welcome discovery by many that receive educational materials and personal interaction with the farmer that provides the product. Expanding the recipe development for chevon will be beneficial. Looking for new venues to publish nutritional and recipe information that reach a broader segment of the population beyond the Mid-Atlantic States is targeted.
18330 Keedysville Rd.
Keedysville, MD 21756
Office Phone: 3014322767