- Education and Training: focus group, networking
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, marketing management, market study, value added
The major objective of this planning grant project is to conduct preliminary research in support of the goal of expanding the marketing opportunities for organic farmers in Texas. To accomplish this objective the research team employed a three pronged approach: First, focus groups of both producers and consumers of organic foods and products were conducted in each of the five regions of Texas. Data gathered in the focus groups reveal that there is a wide diversity of commodities produced across Texas as well as wide variety of marketing channels utilized by organic producers and purchasing venues utilized by organic consumers. Another major issue that emerged from the focus groups was the diverging opinions on the topic of organic certification. Second, information gathered in the focus groups was combined with other information from a literature review on organic food systems and previous surveys of organic producers and consumers to create a tailored survey instrument for organic food consumers and producers in Texas. Some results from the survey are reported below and a copy of the survey results is available through the Southern SARE office as part of this final report. Finally, the research team has been successful in beginning to build a network of both farmers/producers and organizational liaisons of parties interested in the project. University extension agents, farmers market managers, urban gardening program coordinators, and a wide diversity of farmers, gardeners, input suppliers, and alternative food production/processing companies have been involved in the research. Research staff members have discussed the next step in the process which includes the development of a larger funding proposal.
Most of the targeted objectives were met. The focus groups were carried out and transcribed. A literature review was carried out including examples of survey questionnaires. The focus group information was combined with information from the literature review and sample questionnaires to create a tailored survey questionnaire for Texas organic producers and consumers. The survey was printed and sent to two lists of respondents. Returned surveys were entered into a SPPS data set and descriptive information was written up in report form. A variety of networking activities were carried out by project staff throughout the project. Project staff members discussed the results and the next step in the process. At this time the goal of the development of a larger research proposal has not been carried out but is still in the planning and development stages.