Farmers Growing the Market with TFA-Approved

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $100,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $190,514.00
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Deborah J. Kane
The Food Alliance


  • Agronomic: peanuts, potatoes
  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), berries (cranberries), cherries, peaches, pears, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, parsnips, peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, feasibility study, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration


    The Food Alliance's mission is to promote increased adoption of sustainable agriculture practices using market-based incentives. The tool we use to accomplish our mission is our seal of approval, Food Alliance Approved. This seal of approval is awarded to farmers who meet our standards in three areas: soil and water conservation, pest and disease management, and human resource management. Farmers who meet The Food Alliance's standards label their products as Food Alliance Approved. Consumers who want to support these farmers can then do so by purchasing these products preferentially in the marketplace.

    Through this project, Farmers Growing the Market with TFA Approved, we sought to provide marketing training and resources for approved farmers so that they could fully take advantage of the benefits of our program and the seal's appeal to consumers. We also aimed to increase consumer awareness and support of the seal of approval, as well as sustainable agriculture more generally.

    The training and resources we provided as part of this project, including point of sale materials, marketing consultations, and customized marketing pieces for approved farms, resulted in increased product sales by Food Alliance Approved farmers. In some instances, the products demanded a higher value, while in others, market share and market opportunities were greater as a result of participation in the program.

    As a result of these engaging marketing efforts, and the increased presence of Food Alliance Approved products in the marketplace, consumer awareness of our program and sustainable agriculture practices increased from 8% to 24% in participating retail markets. These same efforts also earned The Food Alliance extensive media attention and boosted awareness in the Northwest and nationally.

    Also on the national front, the success of The Food Alliance program caught the attention of farmers in the Midwest, and catalyzed a partnership between The Food Alliance and a project called Food Choices. Together, we created The Midwest Food Alliance, and are sharing many of our materials and strategies with our Midwest partners as they move forward using our program as a model.

    Project objectives:

    Farmers Growing the Market with TFA Approved outlined action on three fronts:

    1. First, the TFA Approved program provides farmers with marketing training and resources. TFA Approved farmers develop customized marketing materials with TFA staff, participate in professional media training, connect with consumers and retailers through farm tours and special events, create an online presence and network for their farm, and share lessons learned with other farmers at TFA grower meetings and events.

    2. At the same time, The Food Alliance sets the stage for farmers' marketing efforts through regional public awareness campaigns aimed at cultivating conscious consumers and retailers. In doing so, we harness the purchasing power of shoppers increasingly receptive to farmers' messages, and who demand greater access to healthy food and information about how it was produced.

    3. Finally, TFA farmers will share success stories and results of our project at TFA grower meetings, agricultural conferences, in online forums, and through their own marketing networks. TFA staff will share project strategies and impacts online, through networks such as SAN and WSAWG, in print publications, and directly with our members and collaborators regionally and nationally.

    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.