Mentoring small fresh produce farmers who want to increase farm revenue by selling value-added products through direct-market channels

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $65,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $12,400.00
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
Project Leader:
Anne Fitzgerald
Delaware Department of Agriculture

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general silage crops
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, market study, risk management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    There are 199 small fresh produce farmers in Delaware that suffer not only from the constraints of their small acreages, but also from a commodity marketing model they have been in for years. Many of these farmers have told us they want to increase their profitability and believe they could do so if they could add value to the products they grow and sell them directly without going through a broker. These farmers also told us they need help in putting together a marketing model to enable them to be successful in this environment. The Delaware Department of Agriculture Marketing team, in collaboration with the Cooperative Extension staff of Delaware State University, will mentor a group of farmers to help them develop ways to add value to their products, help them identify and overcome barriers they face, and empower them to sell through all the direct market channels available. We will use our successful farmer collaborators and our marketing model to reach out and mentor others in the years beyond our project.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 20 farmers engaged in this project, 12 will be using the new added-value direct marketing model within 2 years of the start of this project and be selling value-added products through one or more direct channels.

    We will measure success based on each of these farmers reporting sales of value-added products through one or more direct channels resulting in increased income to the farmer over previous years.

    As part of our outreach commitment, we will share our methodology, data and lessons learned with all cooperative extension organizations of all universities on the Delmarva peninsula. We will also send out a newsletter to all the farmers that were not part of our project to encourage them to participate when we reach out to mentor others in the years beyond our project.

    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.