Promoting Sustainable – Locally Grown Farm Products: Creating a Model Partnership to Increase Farmer Access to New Market Opportunities
The goal of this initiative is to develop a model to increase the sales and demand for sustainable and locally grown farm products in urban communities through 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 user 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. Project partners include farmers from within a one hundred mile radius of Philadelphia in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania interested in marketing their products in Philadelphia and the region, other agricultural professionals, restaurant chefs, institutional buyers, farmers’ market development organizations, and others.
- 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.
- More than 68 local farmers are marketing their products in the Philadelphia region as a direct result of this grant, an increase of 340%. These include 16 new farmers that are marketing their farm products directly to consumers through farmers’ markets. We assisted nine farmers market their products to restaurants in the Philadelphia. Nine farmers are selling their products to 12 grocery stores (24 stores planned for 2003) and 15 farmers are selling to food cooperatives. Nineteen more farmers now sell their produce to small grocery stores, bakeries, CSAs, and housing communities.
We have helped farmers to strengthen their delivery systems to Philadelphia regional markets in numerous ways. First, we have helped farmers to network with other farmers to coordinate transportation of farm products. Examples of some of the solutions include arranging for Amish farmers to hire transportation to farmers’ markets cooperatively and piggybacking delivery of a farmer’s products with other farmers coming to Philadelphia on a regular basis. We have also helped farmers to consolidate their products to reach sufficient supply volume to meet the demands of the market. Two examples of this include working with a small broker to create sufficient volume to deliver to a group of supermarkets and assisting a food cooperative to coordinate the purchasing of a variety of fruits and vegetables from farmers in eastern Lancaster County to meet their demand.
We have successfully identified and assisted three major new outlets for local and sustainably grown farm products including Safeway supermarkets, SHARE, and farmers markets. Twelve Safeway supermarkets (branded as Genuardi’s and Zagara’s), purchased produce from nine local farmers. SHARE food cooperative developed a local fruit-and-vegetable food package, marketed as the Farm Fresh Food Package, and sold it to over 200 families monthly from June through November. Six new farmers’ markets (four operated by The Food Trust) were opened in 2001 and 2002, with more than 20 new farmers selling local farm products directly to consumers in the Philadelphia region.
We rely on databases and lists of farmers published and updated by state Departments of Agriculture, state fruit and vegetable growers associations, and county cooperative extension agencies to disseminate the appropriate type information to farmers and suppliers. We have developed a dynamic network of several dozen Cooperative Extension agents that we contact regularly via e-mail, newsletters, and phone. We are developing a web site link to disseminate key information about market opportunities on a regular basis.
Consumers can now access fresh food at farmers’ markets in Philadelphia, Chester, Telford, Phoenixville, and Norristown, and in Pennsylvania, and in Wilmington, Delaware and Camden, New Jersey. In 2003, at least theee new farmers’ markets will be opening in Philadelphia, one in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and another in Wilmington. The Farm Fresh Food Package is being purchased and distributed through SHARE to 30% more households than in 2001. Genuardi’s, a regional supermarket chain now owned by Safeway, increased the number of stores purchasing from local farmers from five in 2001 to 12 in 2002, and plans to expand to 24 stores in 2003. In addition, new purchasing is anticipated by Zagara’s, a specialty market recently spun off from Safeway.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We have created 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. The momentum of direct marketing in the region has been strengthened, leading to increased opportunities for direct marketing as well as an increase in sales volume. A final report will be completed in late spring.