Guided Exploration of Value Added Enterprises Project
The project is designed to guide interested farmers/farmer groups, recruited at farmers markets and elsewhere, through product development, testing, equipment and supplies training, production, business formation, marketing and other issues ancillary to running a small value-added business.
1) 10 farmers/groups of farmers will understand all aspects of developing a value-added enterprise.
2) 30 farmers/groups of farmers will participate in portions of trainings and business classes offered.
3) All vendors in at least five farmer's markets will have an understanding of value-added enterprise development and regulations governing sales at farmers markets.
4) A core group of professionals will have "practiced" a holistic approach to assisting farmers in developing a successful value-added enterprise based on sustainable, local food production.
Nine farms attended a two evening Business Planning workshops.
Forty-eight farms attended a Step by Step Marketing Workshop. This workshop was presented twice this past year. Farmers were able go home with a written Marketing Plan after a full day of learning and brainstorming.
Forty-five farms participated in a program that gave An Overview of Value-Added Resources in Kansas. Participants were able to visit with directors of all the labs on the Kansas State University campus that work with value-added products. Labs visited were: the Value-Added Foods Lab, Meat Science Lab, Extrusion Lab, Thermal Processing Lab, and the Dairy Processing Lab.
Twenty-two farms attended a third Growers School on setting up a Processing Kitchen in Kansas City.
Nine farms participated in a holiday open house that sold value-added products from farms that have attended Guided Explorations workshops.
Twenty-one farms participated in a Fall Festival event highlighted and sold, value-added products from farms that have attended value-added workshops.
Sixteen farms and the Lawrence Ag Network, co-sponsored a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce after-hours mixer. Over 125 people attended and learned about local value-added products.
Thirty new farms have contacted us for information.
Two farmer's markets were given presentations about the project.
Twenty agencies have cooperated in project activities.
Sixty-five farmers attended a Communicating with your customers seminar at the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference. This same program, about marketing at farmer's markets was given to three other groups.
Eight hundred fifty children attended "The Slice of Ag," a program for 4th grade school children. "The Slice of Ag" educates young people about where their food comes from and teaches them safe food handling practices. Children learned many ways that fruits and vegetables can be given added value through processing.
Sixty-five farmers and agri-business people attended the Lawrence Ag Networks Vision Conference, where they discussed the future of Douglas County Agriculture. A Value-Added Ag committee and an Agri-Tourism committee were formed from this group and have met throughout the year to promote agriculture. The Guided Explorations project has had an active presence in both of these committees.
Eighteen vocational ag teachers learned about value-added products on a tour featuring local farms and their products.
Twenty-eight farmers attended a small farm equipment field day sponsored by "Growing Growers." Many of these farmers were also interested in adding value to the crops they raise.
Thirty-two master gardeners attended a workshop on adding value to flowers. They learned preservation and drying techniques that they can pass along to growers.
Presentations that promoted local value added products were given to 12 non-farm groups. These are the end consumers of the value-added products and they appreciated the education.
Many farmers who have attended the Guided Explorations workshops, and are now nearing or are in production of goods, have also requested information about agri-tourism and direct marketing. Two state-wide meetings have been very helpful in getting this information out. Guided Explorations has also helped to establish the Kaw Valley Agri-Tourism Council to better promote and market local value-added products.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
There are at least 25 farms that are seriously pursuing production of value-added products. Eighty-five farms are investigating setting up small scale processing kitchens. Fifty to sixty other farms are in more beginning stages of production. Activities this year changed from the mere accumulation of information and knowledge of how to add value, to marketing these value added products. It is very hard to estimate sales as the types of products and farms are so diverse. Projects include pastured poultry and eggs, on-farm day care, vegetable processing, sheep and sheep cheese, salad dressing, salsa, processed herbs, emus, chestnuts, Christmas trees, organic grain for restaurants, corn mazes, sweet corn, hydroponic tomatoes and greenhouse crops, cut/dried flowers, etc.