Promoting Sustainable – Locally Grown Farm Products: Creating a Model Partnership to Increase Farmer Access to New Market Opportunities
Our goal is to develop a model to increase the sales and demand for sustainable and locally grown farm products in urban communities throughout the Delaware Valley region. The project will create a coordinated, low-overhead information-and-delivery system for sustainable and locally grown farm products that connects small farmers and end users in the densely populated mid-Atlantic corridor. The project brings into partnership individuals and organizations from the regional food system interested in selling or buying locally and sustainably grown produce.
Increase the number of local farmers penetrating the Philadelphia market
Strengthen delivery systems between farmers and buyers, including consumers, institutions, and chefs in the Delaware Valley region
Identify at least three major new outlets for local and sustainably grown farm products in Philadelphia
Create a database of farmers and buyers that can be disseminated via telephone, meetings, printed material, and the Internet
Increase Philadelphia consumer access to locally grown sustainably produced foods
The project has increased the number of local farmers penetrating the Philadelphia market by 47. We are working with 27 farmers at ten operating farmers’ markets in eight locations, and we are working with eight farmers who are growing fruits and vegetables for a monthly Farm Fresh Food Package we initiated, distributed by SHARE (Self-help and Resource Exchange). We are also working with ten farmers who are selling to institutional buyers we identified, and with two farmers who are selling to brokers we identified. Estimated annual gross sales at the markets is $362,183.
We have strengthened the delivery systems between farmers and buyers, including consumers, institutions, and chefs in the Delaware Valley region in three ways. First, by increasing the quantity of direct marketing options and increasing business for farmers and the number of customers who access locally grown food. We are also building a network of farmers, Cooperative Extension agents, state agriculture departments, community food advocates, institutional buyers, and educators in the mid-Atlantic Region who are committed to improve connections between farmers and consumers. And, finally, we are enhancing the delivery system by introducing public, nonprofit and private institutional buyers to farmers, and initiating deals.
We have successfully identified more than three major new outlets, including five Safeway supermarkets, SHARE, and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 1) Five Safeway supermarkets (branded as Genuardi’s and Zagara’s) purchased produce from 8 local farmers. 2) Farm Fresh Food Packages were distributed monthly, from June through November, to 200 individuals and families. 3) The Pennsylvania Convention Center agreed to purchase fresh produce from local farmers, through a local food distributor (Killian’s).
We are building a base of farmers and buyers by using existing databases, and building a dynamic network of several dozen Cooperative Extension agents that will be contacted regularly via e-mail and telephone. We are also developing a web site, list server and e-mail group list to disseminate key information about market opportunities on a regular basis.
Consumers can now access fresh food at new farmers’ markets in Philadelphia, PA, Chester, PA and Camden, NJ. In 2002, new farmers’ markets will be opening in Philadelphia, Telford, Norristown and Phoenixville, PA, and in Wilmington, DE. A Farm Fresh Food Package is being purchased and distributed through SHARE to 200 households. Planning has begun to expand this pilot project to Washington, DC in 2002.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The primary project outcome is a framework for a sustainable, low-cost, coordinated information-and-delivery system for sustainable and locally grown farm products. Farmers have increased access to information about Philadelphia markets from multiple sources. Sales of fresh produce, sustainably grown, have increased by at least 20%. The momentum of direct marketing in the region has been strengthened, leading to an increase in sales volume.