Increasing value-added opportunities through on-farm food service: Research, resources & field days

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $29,992.00
Projected End Date: 05/01/2019
Grant Recipient: Renewing the Countryside
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop, Toolkit
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, feasibility study, financial management, market study, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community services, employment opportunities, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, quality of life, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    In this project, Renewing the Countryside (RTC) will create, in partnership with a team of seven farm partners, a portfolio of tools for farmers interested in diversifying into on-farm food service.

    This toolkit includes written profiles of successful farm businesses, two on-farm field days, and an on-farm market research assessment to better understand attendees.

    As consumer demand grows for on-farm dining experiences, from pizza farms to farm-to-table dinners, farmers are increasingly interested in adding such a venture to their agriculture business mix, the diversity of which supports economic viability.

    However, there is a lack of resources in helping these farmers successfully navigate the business planning, particularly in understanding the target market (who is attending these events and why?), understanding state regulations and accurately assessing if such diversification that typically requires a commercial kitchen investment makes strategic sense.

    This project continues the work RTC and the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) have collaborative pioneered in on-farm food service training, working in partnership with farmers running successful on-farm food ventures across the Upper Midwest.

    Over 400 participants, primarily new and beginning farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, will participate in the resources created, focusing on direct learning from farm partners.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Expose 400+ farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin to value-added on-farm food service diversification opportunities through educational resources including state-specific manuals, detailed profiles documenting successful sustainable farm strategies and compiled market research data to better understand event target attendees.
    • Enhance 80+ farmers’ understanding of on-farm food service enterprises best practices with experiential field days on successful, sustainable farm
    • Conduct on-farm research to better understand attendees, resulting in a report enabling farmers to more accurately address business
    • Capture the knowledge of farm partners about their start-up stories and running such successful, value-added businesses alongside sustainable
    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.