Marketing on-farm compost for sustainability and economic viability
NERC staff posted an article about the Marketing on Farm Compost Project in the NERC monthly electronic bulletin in April 2009 which is distributed to approximately 600 people. BioCycle magazine published the article as well in its June 2009 edition. Eight inquiries regarding the project were made following the bulletin and BioCycle article. Four were from farmers; these were added to the project workshop outreach contact lists; one was from the State of Maryland inquiring about the ability to participate in the project; another was from Vermont with a similar inquiry; a staff person from Empire State Development office in New York state inquired about the project in New York; and another contact came from a compost expert inquiring about more specifics on the project. Post information about project on NERC’s Website.
The Project Team of 19 individuals from four different states, including three farmer beneficiaries, nine farmer Peer Experts, and seven Agricultural Specialists were contacted about the start of the project. An overview of the Project was presented to Team Members, along with a project task list. Members were asked to be thinking about resources to include in the Project Toolkit, contacts to invite to the workshops, and context and specific topics they would like to see addressed at the workshops.
Extensive research has been conducted for resources to include in the Project Toolkit, including general and compost specific marketing information, compost processing and quality control resources, and a resource list.
A representative from the US Composting Council contacted NERC staff about the project and potential ways to work together to promote the project and the Composting Council’s Compost School to be offered in the late summer of 2010. NERC staff also participated in a conference call organized by the New York Empire State Development (ESD) office about working with farm compost operators to accept food scraps as feedstocks. ESD is developing resource materials for compost operations to utilize in incorporating food scraps into their composting processing.
NERC staff began communication with five New York Project Team members to begin development of the New York workshop. Dates were set with the New York workshop venue hosts, a farm compost operation Peer Expert Team Member. Workshop dates and venue logistics were also discussed with two Massachusetts Team Members. Conference call dates with New York and Massachusetts Team Members were set for the first week in February 2010 to review the workshop agenda, discuss outreach, venue logistics, and other details.
Workshop announcements were developed for both the New York and Massachusetts workshops. Distribution lists of more than 100 farms have been developed to date to announce the Workshops. The workshop agenda was drafted by NERC staff and sent to all Team Members for review and comment.
- Form a Project Team of 19 individuals from four different states to assist in development of the Toolkit, outreach, field day/workshops (fd/w’s) development and implementation, delivery of technical assistance, and project verification. (May 2009 – April 2013)
155 CD copies of Toolkit distributed (80 to fd/w’s participants, 40 to Agricultural Specialists, 35 SARE representatives), and posted on NERC website. (Oct. 2009 – March 2011)
At least 500 on-farm composters will be contacted for participation in fd/w’s. (September 2009 – March 2011)
80 beneficiary farmers will gain knowledge and skills in compost marketing by participating in fd/w’s and receiving the Toolkit. Beneficiaries will complete a questionnaire and be offered individual assistance to develop and implement a compost marketing plan. (Oct. 2009 – March 2011)
25 beneficiaries will ask for and be provided assistance in developing and implementing a compost marketing plan, including two on-farm consultations each. (Jan. 2010 – March 2012)
Follow-up verification with (25) technical assistance beneficiaries and 10 case studies written documenting successfully implemented compost marketing plans. The case studies will be incorporated into an updated Toolkit. Revised toolkit will be mailed to SARE representatives and others upon request. (March 2012 – April 2013)
Performance Target: Of 80 farmers participating in the field day/workshops, 25 will develop compost marketing plans, 15 of which will implement the plans and sell value-added compost products within two years of implementing the marketing plan as measured by increased sales and tipping fees of roughly $36,000 to $56,000 annually for each participating beneficiary. Project Duration: 4 years.
The Project Team of 19 individuals from four different states is formed and has been assisting in development of the Toolkit, outreach, and field day/workshops development. In consultation with the New York Team Members, the venue and date for the New York workshop is set for March 30 at a Team Peer Expert farm compost operation. A conference call with New York Team Members is scheduled for February 4, 2010 to discuss the workshop logistics, outreach, and agenda. A conference call with Massachusetts Team Members is set for February 1, 2010 to discuss the workshop to be held on April 7 at the New England Small Farm Institute in Belchertown, MA. The location of the venue is a change from the original proposal in order to accommodate more people at the workshop and to involve the New England Small Farm Institute as an additional partner. (October-December 2009)
Toolkit resources are in the process of being gathered. Research into marketing techniques and development of marketing plans has been conducted in order to put together the compost marketing template to be included in the Toolkit. (June-December 2009)
Contact lists of farmers around the Northeast are being compiled to announce the workshops. (November-December 2009)
An announcement for the New York and Massachusetts workshops has been developed and will be sent to at least 200 collaborator beneficiary farmers that currently do on-farm composting, that are minimally marketing their compost, and are in need of training and skills to improve marketing efforts. Lists include farm operations from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. (December 2009).
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
One Marketing On-Farm Compost workshop is scheduled in New York for March 30, 2010 and one workshop is scheduled in Massachusetts for April 7, 2010. The agenda for the workshops has been drafted and sent to Team Members for review and comment. Project Toolkit resources are being compiled. The workshops and the Toolkit are being designed to include aspects pertinent to compost marketing including best management practices for compost operations, market plan development, sales strategies with the goal of providing the tools to help farmers: 1) explore composting as a value-added product to support their current business operation; 2) understand the importance of quality control and compost recipe develop; 3) learn how to acquire the necessary permits to operate and market compost in their state; 4) explore potential feedstocks and pricing structures; 5) develop marketing and sales strategies to effectively meet local and regional demand; and 6) develop and implement a compost marketing plan.
1 Winter St.
Office Phone: 6172925969
SUNY Cobleskill, Agricultural Engineering Dept.
115 Curtis-Mott Hall
Cobleskill, NY 12043
Office Phone: 5182555691
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Suite 500, 251 Causeway Street
Boston, MA 02114
Office Phone: 6176261773
Kreher's Poultry Farms/Kreher’s Compost
5411 Davison Rd.
Clarence, NY 14031
Office Phone: 7167596802
120 Chester Road Derry
Derry, NH 03038
Office Phone: 6034325263
Watts Family Farm
23 Falmouth Sandwich
Sandwich, MA 02571
Office Phone: 5084773302
Mass Natural Fertilizer Co., Inc.
65 Bean Porridge Hill Rd.
Westminster, MA 01473
Office Phone: 9788740744