Institutional Markets for Sustainable Agriculture Products

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $61,875.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $25,000.00
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
John Hendrickson
CIAS, UW-Madison
George Stevenson
UW-Madison, Center for Integrated Ag. Systems

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), berries (cranberries), melons, pears, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, sheep, swine, fish
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, networking
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban/rural integration


    The College Food Project sought to understand the opportunities and barriers to marketing local and sustainable farm products to colleges and universities and develop marketing linkages between such institutions and local farms. Barriers such as liability issues, convenience, cost, and lack of consumer demand do exist. However, where there is demand and committed food service personnel, barriers can be overcome. Self-run food services appear to have more flexibility to buy from local farms than contracted food services and marketing cooperatives or local distributors make local buying more convenient for both buyers and farmers. The project generated or increased local buying at six institutions and helped over 25 growers or marketing cooperatives sell to institutions. At many institutions, however, real and perceived barriers kept both interested and disinterested food service directors from local buying.

    Project objectives:

    1. Evaluate the opportunities and barriers for increased utilization of local, sustainable agricultural products by analyzing the preferences, buying practices, and protocols of colleges and university food purchasing decision-makers.

    2. Explore the practices and policies of food service distributors to evaluate the opportunities and barriers they present for increased sourcing of local and sustainable food products.

    3. Explore and evaluate strategies for working with students, faculty, and alumni to increase demand for local, sustainable food products within a small private college and a large public university.

    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.