Developing Sustainable Local Food Sales to a College Institutional Market

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $51,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $7,860.00
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Lisa Johnson
Vital Communities

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cucurbits, greens (leafy), peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Animals: bovine, poultry
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Education and Training: technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    At the expressed interest of farmers, Dartmouth College Dining Services (DDS), and others, Vital Communities (VC) will develop a task force of farm, DDS, student, faculty, alumni, and wholesale representatives to create strategies for selling locally grown food to DDS. We will provide training and technical assistance to project farmers enabling them to profitably produce food to DDS’s purchasing specifications. By addressing real and perceived barriers to local foods sales, combining production capacity of several local farms, and drawing institution-wide effort to the project, we will create a profitable and satisfying market for local foods no one farm could establish by itself.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Ten VT/NH farmers of produce, meat, poultry, dairy and other products will establish profitable and satisfying wholesale or direct accounts with DDS by the end of three years.

    For this project to succeed and continue beyond the grant period, the profitability of these accounts is essential. Our reason for utilizing a multi-stakeholder task force rather than helping farmers establish accounts directly is that by involving all members of this food system, we can pinpoint the areas of DDS operations most likely to result in profitable sales and can bridge barriers by coordinating buyer and producer planning. This project also stresses farmer satisfaction, such as making fuller use of their farms’ production capacities, increasing gross sales and cash flow through higher volume accounts, and earning increased respect and recognition in the community. Finally, we seek increased involvement in local, sustainable agriculture by DDS, giving students access to fresh, healthy local food and increasing their knowledge of the economic, health, and environmental impact of their food purchases. Dartmouth will benefit through goodwill in the community and publicity about its efforts.

    Target Verification: Farmers have expressed strong sentiments that they are capable of self-reporting on profitability, so we will rely on them to quantify profitability of these new accounts with extension support. DDS will generate information on the gross value of its food purchases from local farms at project baseline and at the end of each project year as a measure of changes in its involvement in local agriculture. We will also survey farmers and other task force stakeholders about their personal satisfaction with the new accounts, perceived changes in farm viability, life changes made as a result of the new accounts, and whether the project’s training, technical assistance, and public visibility is helping farmers in other parts of their businessbelow.

    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.