Empowering dairy farmers to build a cottage industry
PASA will coordinate a series of educational workshops and trainings over the course of three years, designed to empower farmers and entrepreneurs to develop and market value-added dairy products, including artisan and farmstead cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, and more. PASA seeks to provide PA and regional dairy farmers the opportunity to diversify farm income through participation in field days, intensive learning programs, and conference tracks/workshops on producing and direct-marketing value-added dairy products.
Enabled by PASA’s value-added dairy programs, we expect 45 farmers and/or entrepreneurs to devote serious time, money and energy to experimenting with developing a value-added dairy product for market. Of these, 15 will go on to successfully introduce this product for direct market or wholesale distribution.
PASA’s goal for the 2007 field day season was to hold four field days attracting 150 farmers. We actually held one field day with a total of 40 attendees.
1. The Grass-Based Value-Added Dairy Farm, July 25, 2007
PASA hosted two successful Intensive Learning Programs that enabled 22 farmers to spend multiple days learning how to make cheese. We were able to draw from a diverse pool of farmers to attend these events as one was on goats’ milk cheesemaking specifically, and the other was designed for beginners.
1. Goats’ Milk Cheesemaking with Linda Smith, May 4 and 5, 2007
2. Beginners’ Cheesemaking with Neville McNaughton, July 10-12, 2007
We are offering several value-added dairy workshops and an entire pre-conference track at the 2008 Farming for the Future conference. Melanie Dietrich Cochran, a reference on this grant and member of the conference planning committee, has organized an all-day Thursday program at the conference titled The Art of Cheese. It includes the following presentations:
1. Costs and Considerations & Packaging and Aging Artisan Cheeses with Peter Dixon, Dairy Farm Consulting
2. Assessing and Balancing Production, Resources, and Marketing Goals with Krista Dittman & Charuth Van Beuzekom, Farmstead First
3. Obtaining a Provisional Raw Milk Cheese Permit with Holly Foster, Chapels Creamery
4. Artisan Cheese Plate with Ann Saxelby, Saxelby Cheesemongers
5. Cooking with Farmstead Cheeses with Jason Turner, Alibis Eatery and Spirits
6. Regulations for On-Farm Processing in PA with a Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture Representative
We expect this pre-conference track to sell out at 80 participants. Also scheduled for the 2008 conference are three value-added dairy related workshops. We anticipate approximately 100 people to benefit from these workshops.
1. Raw Dairy Discussion with Mark McAfee (also the keynote speaker on Raw Dairy)
2. Cheesemaking Demonstration with Jim Amory, LeRaysville Cheese Factory, PA
3. Equipping the Value-Added Dairy Farm with Dale Martin, Agri-Service, MD
This year the Educational Outreach department experienced a huge transition with Heather House leaving the position of Director after four years. Considering this change in staff, we have managed to maintain the value-added dairy programming well despite my being new and having to learn the best publicity tactics, etc. One area we have fallen behind in is in the number of field days offered this season. As I was not responsible for scheduling in the spring of 2007, I’m not sure why PASA was not able to fulfill our goal of four field days. Perhaps host farms were difficult to schedule given that the grant was not started until the beginning of May which is after our calendar and schedule are usually set (in March). We will certainly get back on track with our proposed goals in terms of field days and intensive learning programs during the next PASA events season.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We are happy to report that we attracted a diverse group of farmers to our programs this year especially in our intensive learning programs. We were able to draw from the greater PA region including many participants from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. The majority were PASA members, but we had registrations from some non-PASA members as well. From our exit surveys, we learned that the large majority of participants learned what they expected to learn and plan to make a change in their farming operation, business, or community as a result of something they learned at the event.
We also learned from exit surveys that the participants in at least the cheesemaking course in July felt they had gained good contacts and had become part of a network of beginning cheesemakers that could communicate with each other post-course. In fact, I know a woman from that course who pursued yogurt making via a contact she made.
The results from a Survey Monkey evaluation given to attendees of all field days and intensive learning programs show that in every category, when asked about knowledge/involvement before attending a PASA program compared to current level of knowledge/involvement, participants rated their current levels higher than before attending the event. This confirms that our programs are helping people change their products and marketing in a positive way. We’ve learned that 35% of participants who responded are now improving an existing product, up from 13% prior to attending the PASA events. 83% of respondents rated learning directly from farmers as the best thing about attending a PASA Farm Based Education event. Thanks to the grant funding from SARE for programming on value-added dairy, we are adding options for farmers seeking to diversify income and create more products and better marketing practices.
Stone Meadow Farm
190 Quarry Road
Woodward, PA 16882
Office Phone: 8143498841
Farm Based Education Coordinator
Pennsylvania Assn for Sustainable Agriculture
104 North St
Millheim, PA 16854
Office Phone: 8023874041
Director of Western PASA Programs
650 Smithfield Street, Suite 210
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Office Phone: 4126970411