- Education and Training: networking, participatory research, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: farmers' markets/farm stands, market study, marketing management, new enterprise development, value added
- Sustainable Communities: community development, employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public policy, sustainability measures
Farmers wear many hats and in addition to having the tools to grow crops, they need the tools to build a strong business that capitalizes on local sales opportunities. Knowing your customer base is crucial to being a successful and sustainable small business. For the future growth of sustainable agriculture, we need to look beyond providing supply and to find new ways to stimulate demand for locally produced products. We know there are many reasons why people purchase local food and believe we can do much more to increase their local food consumption. The twenty-four farmers’ markets that have sprung up on the Big Island in the last decade are doing well; however, sales can be far greater. Farmers have the capacity to grow much more local food if the demand exists. Increased demand will support higher incomes and encourage more (younger) farmers to start production on land that is presently underutilized. Only two hundred years ago, native Hawaiian sustainable agriculture supported a population of around a million, with no imports. Today, we have about the same population in the State of Hawaii but we import close to 90% of our food. Our proposal will research methods for promoting demand and creating educational and informative materials that describe many ways to obtain and use locally available products on the island of Hawaii. Our long term goal is to see a rise in the percentage of local foods used in the average diet on the island of Hawaii increase way beyond the present 10%. At farmers’ markets, it is common for producers to answer a myriad of questions about nutrition, favorite recipes, and farming philosophy, but seldom are there any supportive publications or literature to hand out to customers. Many crops are seasonal and there have been no coordinated efforts to show consumers or farmers’ market vendors where products can be sourced at different times of the year. There are also many foods and products made here that can be substituted for imported items if the consumer is motivated and educated regarding their availability. The network of existing farmers’ markets on Hawaii Island provides a perfect opportunity for the dissemination of educational information to consumers and for sharing information with market vendors and farmers regarding sources for additional local food items they can offer for sale and the requirements to produce their own value-added products. For producers, we are proposing to create and distribute: A database of locally produced foods and value-added products currently available at farmers’ markets and at other retail outlets. A comprehensive value-added products booklet describing legal requirements (such as labeling), recipe suggestions, processing facility options, local suppliers of reasonably priced additional ingredients, and marketing options. For consumers, we are proposing to create and distribute: Educational materials regarding the substitution of local products to replace an import (i.e. macadamia nut oil to replace corn oil) in existing recipes. A booklet of existing recipes and recipe books that primarily use local foods. Descriptions of how to prepare and serve individual local food items. A pamphlet with home production methods for processing local foods to create nut butters, cheeses, jellies and jams, etc… Our research plan is to start from our farm and market stand at the Waimea Homestead Farmers’ Market and expand to include site visits to 18 other farmers markets throughout the island. Our educational work will start with the distribution of materials produced to farmers’ market vendors from our own stand and then will expand to include distribution to all farmers markets and a Hawaii Island speaking tour of schools, community events, conferences, and food events. Stimulating demand for local foods requires a marketing strategy and for this we plan to issue press releases to Hawaii Island media outlets regarding the publication of each of our educational materials and for each of our speaking engagements. In the course of our research, we will seek out community residents who consume a much higher than average proportion of local foods and will endeavor to interest media writers and editors to include stories about these local folks in their publications. We also plan to work closely with the State of Hawaii “Buy Local/It Matters” campaign, whose mission includes building partnerships with the increasing number of organizations involved in food self-sufficiency/food security. At the recent Hawaii Subregional Conference, participants listed the trends that can lead to greater food sustainability and included: Increased consumer interest in locally grown and island-fresh foods, as well as organic foods and grass-fed beef. Increase in the number of farmers’ markets and the number of consumers shopping at these venues. Our proposal seeks to address these issues and needs by employing our technical advisor and assistants to: Review records we have compiled over the last two years of the diverse products we have grown, plus the value-added items processed and sold from our farm. Research local foods and value-added products sold at farmers’ markets across the island. Research the local products that can be substituted for imported products. Create the educational materials listed above. Distribute the information to producers and consumers. Report on the achievements and findings of the project.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Conduct pilot market research at four market days at the Real Farm stand at Waimea Homestead Farmers Market surveying consumers on their purchase history of existing and potential farm produced foods and value added products.
- Create a more comprehensive producer and customer survey and visit eighteen farmers markets around the island. Collect data from producers / retailers at the 18 markets of all the farm products and value added products offered to consumers. July 2016 – March 2017.
- Research value added products legal requirements, recipe suggestions, processing facility options, local suppliers of reasonably priced additional ingredients and marketing options. July 2016 – March 2017.
- Compile a list of 10 island residents who consume high percentages of local foods and seek media writers and editors to include articles about these local folks in their publications. July 2016 – March 2017.
- Research local products that could be substituted for imported products July 2016 – March 2017.
- Create a publication listing locally produced foods and value added products currently available at Hawaii Island farmers markets. April-July 2017
- Create a value added products booklet describing the legal requirements, recipe suggestions, processing facility options, local suppliers of reasonably priced additional ingredients and marketing options. April-July 2017
- Create educational materials listing opportunities for the substitution of local products for imports using existing recipes. April-July 2017
- Create a booklet listing existing recipes and recipe books that primarily use local foods with descriptions of how to prepare and serve local food items plus home production methods for processing local foods. April-July 2017
- Distribute educational information created to consumers and farmers market vendors and producers through direct visits to 18 Hawaii Island farmers markets.
- Promote the publishing of articles in four local news media sources and in the State of Hawaii “Buy Local/It matters” campaign literature. August – March 2018
- Complete Report writing requirements for SARE.