Economic viability for the farmer, fresh food for low-income families: A manual

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $14,955.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2018
Grant Recipient: Soul Fire Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Leah Penniman
Soul Fire Farm Institute, Inc.

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, new business opportunities, partnerships

    Proposal summary:

    Many sustainable farmers are interested in getting their food to low income customers, but are unable to accept a lower price point for their products. Since 2011, Soul Fire Farm has been piloting marketing strategies to reach vulnerable populations while maintaining a financially viable farm business. In, 2017, we intend to refine our five strategies (1) accepting SNAP and government benefits (2) sliding scale CSA (3) institutional partnerships (4) neighborhood organizing (5) social justice marketing. With the support of our technical advisor at Corbin Hill Farm and Food Project, an expert in marketing to vulnerable populations, we will consolidate our strategies into a “how to” manual for other sustainable growers. Our host organization offers training programs for hundreds of farmers annually and will make use of the results as well.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Goal: To test and refine Soul Fire Farm’s marketing strategies for getting fresh food to low income families, while maintaining a financially viable farm business, and to share these strategies with other farmers through an online manual and on-farm training programs reaching 200+ farmers.

    Research Question: How can farmers increase revenues while working with low-income customers?
    (1) We will survey our customers to determines the effectiveness of our sliding scale CSA share and social justice marketing and make modifications in the 2017 season.
    (2) We will conduct listening and sharing sessions in low income neighborhoods to uncover barriers to fresh food access and let people know how to attain affordable farm products.
    (3) In addition to SNAP, we will research and implement sensible government benefits programs on our farm (WIC, FMNP, FINI).
    (4) We will enhance our institutional partnerships with nonprofits and agencies who directly serve vulnerable  populations and market wholesale share boxes.
    (5) We will document the results of 1-5 in a manual that highlights best practices for marketing to low income people. We will publish the manual for free online to our 6000 followers and teach the content in our training programs that reach 200+ farmers annually.

    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.