The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) will increase production of locally sourced, artisanal meat products to meet growing demand from direct, foodservice wholesale, and institutional buyers in southern and central Ohio. Livestock farmers will participate in workshops, “hands-on” meat processing trainings, equipment orientations, and marketing and distribution services provided by ACEnet staff and four farm partners-trainers utilizing the ACEnet Food Ventures Center (FVC-Athens) and the Food and Farm Enterprise Center (FFEC-Nelsonville.) ACEnet opened a dedicated meat processing room in the fall of 2018. After a year of operation, approximately 5 processors have utilized the facility to process 22 new value-added pork and beef meat products, during 60+ scheduled processing days. The goals of the project intend to increase the amount processed, expand varieteis and access to wholesale markets. The project will assist staff in providing the training and inspiration other low-income producers, in ARC distressed counties, need to utilize the facility and meet demand from market partners in the 30 Mile Meal restaurant and Farm to School value chains that ACEnet and Rural Action have coordinated for many years. Institutional and foodservice demand surpasses supply. The project budget includes a patty former and sausage linker to scale processing efficiencies.
Project objectives from proposal:
The project has three objectives:
1 Utilize farm partners and ACEnet staff experienced in locally sourced, artisanal meat processing to provide “hands on” training to increase poundage, variety and sales to benefit regional livestock farmers in ACEnet’s meat processing facility.
2. Promote workshops and on farm tours that encourage increased livestock production that follow sustainable agriculture practices to create a supply chain for additional processing opportunities.
3. Expand value chain coordination with marketing, storage and distribution assistance and financial counseling to prepare and link livestock farmers ready to sell into wholesale foodservice and institutional channels.