Developing a Model for Successful Direct Marketing in Southern Communities
Many sustainable small farmers in the South are increasingly dependent on local direct-marketing options to sell their agricultural goods. The problem is that many direct-marketing channels in the South are not developed enough to sustain full-time growers.
In Florida, as in other states, community-based direct-marketing opportunities have been limited to a few major successful–and many smaller, less-developed—farmers markets. Other forms of direct marketing, such as pick-your-own operations, farm stands and community supported agriculture, are limited to certain areas and crops. The development of a steady, committed clientele interested in purchasing products directly from growers is the goal of this project.
Community Green Markets of North Florida (CGM), a not-for-profit farmer organization founded by local growers in 1996, has been operating two farmers markets in Gainesville, Florida since its inception. Its purpose is to help promote and operate farmers markets and develop marketing opportunities for growers within North Florida communities. CGM growers feel there are a number of obstacles to the growth of direct marketing opportunities in their area.
CGM will address these obstacles by developing a community-based model using a multi-faceted approach incorporating community education, promotion and community development to overcome them. They will conduct activities to educate the community about nutrition and promote the value of local agriculture through events and outreach. CGM will also work with local government to promote transportation from low-income communities to farmer’s markets, sell locally grown produce to schools and other government institutions, develop cooperative kitchens to prepare value-added products and work with the Chamber of Commerce to promote farm related activities.