Empowering small farms to make big decisions: Examining profitability of local markets in West Virginia

2013 Annual Report for ONE12-168

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,959.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Sigrid Teets
WesMonTy RC&D

Empowering small farms to make big decisions: Examining profitability of local markets in West Virginia


The partnership between WesMonTy RC&D, WVU Davis College of Agriculture, and six small-scale specialty crop farmers continues to thrive. This record keeping project is being implemented closely to proposed methods. As predicted in our proposal the number of farmers to complete recordkeeping data of their annual operational expenses and income are low, however the quality of the recordkeeping is high. Participating farmers have completed their first year of data entry into spreadsheets created during 2012 by project collaborators. These operational spreadsheets identified marketing strategies and include the time and out-of-pocket expenses involved, as well as the potential as the revenues from each market. Early during 2013 Sigrid Teets, project coordinator and Mary Oldham, WVU agricultural economist met with specialty crop farmers to assist with spreadsheet data entry. These farmers kept records in 2012 for the following crops: tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, corn, and potted flowers. One farmer was unable to complete his spreadsheets in 2012 and has dropped out of the project. Mary Beth Lind, a high tunnel raspberry farmer, agreed to fill the vacancy for the 2013 growing season.

Currently, the second growing season is coming to an end, farmers are beginning to report expense and labor data for three of their specialty crop enterprises. Individual meetings are being arranged again with any farmers needing assistance with completing spreadsheets. A $250 stipend has been given to farmers for completing their recordkeeping for each year of participation. A second workshop is being planned for January 10th, 2014. This business training will teach producers how to access markets, and the benefits and drawbacks of different marketing options available to them. We will use the information generated by farmers in their recordkeeping efforts as a basis for cost-benefit analysis and decision making. This will build producer confidence in their ability to analyze their costs and benefits and make strategic profit-maximizing market channel decisions. It will also provide motivation for them to continue to keep records and to share their knowledge with others.

Farmers plan to attend and share their experiences with other farmers by presenting a poster and participating in a panel discussion during regional agricultural workshops and conferences during early 2014.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • Support to farmers:

    • Encourage/remind farmers to continue keeping good records of production expenses and labor

    • Provide individualized recordkeeping assistance to farmers as needed

  • Workshop 2: Marketing Options

  • Disseminate project results

    • Farmer Presentations during regional Agricultural Workshops

  1. Farm Opportunities Day – January 25, 2014

  2. Small Farm Conference – spring 2014

    • Posting results on communication network websites and newsletters

    • Posting spreadsheet/decision making template on communication network websites


  • Organic Farmers Business Handbook by Richard Wiswall purchased for every farmer

  • Workshop 1: Recordkeeping

  • Individual Farm Visits

  • Individual data entry assistance

  • Creation of a spreadsheet/decision making template

  • Two years of farmer collected labor and expense records

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

With the second year of this recordkeeping project behind participants, farmers are reporting better recordkeeping methods and many have reported the recordkeeping influencing their time management and purchasing decisions. Although recordkeeping is time consuming, most report that it is a worthwhile experience.

Farmers have been given a new skill which has enabled them to make informed economic decisions regarding production and marketing based on their own recordkeeping. Decisions to continue marketing using current methods are being evaluated. Most profitable marketing channels are being considered. This will lead to increased profits while helping farmers meet the growing demand for their products. Furthermore, these farmers are developing strategies to increase the time-efficiency and usefulness of their record keeping that they will be able to share with other farmers. They are also prepared to share their tips to good recordkeeping with other farmers later this spring. This strategy-sharing among farmers will increase the accessibility of these financial and decision-making practices to more WV farmers, thereby increasing their ability to make important marketing decisions that will enhance the profitability and sustainability of their farms.


Mark Hollen

Farmer Cooperator
Rt 2. Box 618
Philippi, WV 26416
Office Phone: 3044574663
Lisa Sickler

Farmer Cooperator
Rt. 1 Box 366
Moatsville, WV 26405
Office Phone: 3046779658
David Ahrend

Farmer Cooperator
102 Edgewood Dr.
Philippi, WV 26416
Office Phone: 3042880777
Nina Melvin

Farmer Cooperator
RR 4 Box 213A
Philippi, WV 26416
Office Phone: 3046140660
Gary Goetze

Farmer Cooperator
Rt. 1 Box 487
Mt. Clare, WV 26408
Office Phone: 3048427667
David Proudfoot

Farmer Cooperator
341 Perry Goode Rd.
Belington, WV 26250
Office Phone: 3048231460