Guided Exploration of Value Added Enterprises Project
The project continued on with educational events during the one year no-cost extension. This included a wide variety of workshops, bus tours to value added facilities, magazine articles, farm tours, meetings with state agencies, and learning sessions.
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 farmers 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.
Worked with the publishers of Midwest Living Magazine to identify farms that were producing Kansas Products. Four farms that have attended Guided Exploration meetings were selected to be featured in the Kansas State Official Visitors Guide 2006.
Lawrence Area Farm Tour. Fifteen farms joined for a two day farm tour. All farms have participated with the Guided Explorations Project on at least two workshops, and all farms received assistance and information about direct marketing their farm products. 2,000 people attended the tours, and the project utilized 160 volunteers.
21 Farms participated in a Fall Festival event highlighted and sold, value added products from farms that have attended value added workshops.
Met with representative of the Kansas Dept. of Commerce, Kansas Dept. of Agriculture, Kansas Rural Center, and producer groups, to look at rules and regulations that affect farm direct marketers. From the work done through the Guided Explorations project, and feedback from participating farms, the state is assessing the allowance of “Domestic Kitchens” to be used by farmers’ market vendors and small farmers. Plans were also made for 5 Direct Marketing meetings to be held in January and February, 2006.
Presented a workshop titled, “Improve Your Financial and Management Skills”. This workshop included speakers on Business Planning, Bookkeeping and Accounting practices, Working with you Lender, Product and General Farm Liability Insurance, Marketing Plans, and Hiring Employees. These topics were presented, as they were identified at previous meetings. 28 people attended
A joint holiday open house was sponsored by 12 of the producers that have participated in the Guided Explorations workshops. Local farms, featuring, emu meat products, lamb summer sausage, dried flowers, blue corn chips, pickled asparagus, pasture raised chickens, organic Christmas trees, jams and jellies, apple cider and wine gathered to share their products with over 500 people
Sent out press releases to area papers to promote these farms. Articles were written about two of the participating farms.
Assisted with a SARE Producer Grant Writing workshop. 7 Guided Explorations farms participated.
Helped with the promotion of the Holiday Market of the Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market. Sent press releases that publicized the market. 46 vendors participated, and 3,000 customers attended the market.
Presented workshop session on “Coopetition – Cooperating with your Competition” at the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Meeting. 30 growers were in attendance. We stressed that your competition can be your greatest cooperator, and featured ideas from several of the growers who are regulars at Guided Explorations workshops.
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. Four Guided Explorations farms attended the North American Farm Direct Marketing Association meeting, and will be sharing their information with other farmers in the state.
500 people in attendance.
A survey was sent to 120 farms who have attended Guided Explorations meetings. 35 were returned and results are currently being tabulated.
Five Direct Marketing workshops were held throughout the state to assist farmers interested in selling their products directly to the consumer.
Other items through the year:
*Attended 4 Kansas Association of Horticulture Industries board meetings. Promoted the surveying of the states horticulture industry to determine size and value of crops. Attended legislative hearings on possible state funding of this project.
*Presentations that promoted local value added products were given to 9 non farm groups. These are the end consumers of the value added products and appreciated the education. These groups included
University Women’s Club (40 people)
3 Mom’s Clubs (total of 25 people)
Lawrence Chamber of Commerce Ag Network (20 people)
Baldwin City Rotary Club (50 people)
Partners in Progress awards ceremony (200 people)
Lawrence Welcome Club (80 people)
No Name Club (30 people)
*Became a resource for the local media, referring them to at least 10 Guided Exploration farms for stories. Articles that were picked up included those about:
Locally produce alternative meats (5 Guided Explorations farms featured)
Eggplant growers (2 farms featured)
Local turkey producers (2 farms featured)
Berry producers (4 farms featured)
Heirloom vegetable growers (3 farms featured)
Sheep producer (1 farm featured)
Pea growers (2 farms featured)
*Interviewed five times by local radio and newspapers about Guided Explorations workshops and bus tours.
*Participated in events organized by the AgriBusiness Network. The purposes of the AgriBusiness Network include advocacy for the agribusiness sector, networking, youth development within the agribusiness sector and economic development, including value-added agriculture.
*Featured locally grown herbs in an article in the Kansas City Star. Utilized herbs in a flower arrangement.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This was a one-year no-cost extension to the project. Much of our work was a continuation on with farmers and groups who had participated earlier in formal business planning sessions or trainings.
We continued outreach to new producers through the wide variety of activities mentioned in the report. At this point, new producers are referred to institutional assistance at Kansas State University, the Dept. of Ag., the Dept. of Commerce, and the Dept. of Revenue. A series of workshops around Kansas with this core team helped those professionals to develop presentations, and clarify how their agencies can assist new farmers, or those adding new enterprises.
There is now a clearly defined referral tree for these types of producers.