Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network: New Products Program


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Speaker: Anne Freeman
Session: Microgrants as Catalysts

Published in: Technology, Economy & Finance
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Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network: New Products Program

  1. 1. MICROGRANTS AS CATALYSTS: SMALL DOLLARS, BIG CHANGE Anne Freeman, Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network Cheryl Nash, Lanark Local Flavour/EcoPerth Dru Montri, Michigan Farmers’ Market Association
  2. 2. Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network: New Products Program - 66 grants to farmers at Greenbelt markets - $300-$1000 - Grants for equipment to develop a new product - Responded to Shopper Study
  3. 3. Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network: New Products Program - New Products Program responded to GBFMN 2010 Shopper Study: - Found customer demand for: o broader selection o organic products o more value-added products, o longer market seasons
  4. 4. Process and Administration 1. Contact with farmers’ market managers 2. Application a) Eligibility 3. Selection process 4. Grant conditions a) Partial Funding 5. Reporting Sun-Ray Orchards purchased a convection oven to produce pies, tarts and muffins, increasing their sales by 20%.
  5. 5. Successes and Challenges Successes - - Response to customer demand Relationship-building with growers Simple administration for applicants Incentive to launch projects, multiplier effect Challenges - Weather Value-added projects Reporting follow-up Short-term evaluation deadline The Burrs and the Bees used their grant for a radial extractor, and for the first time, were able to collect, extract and sell spring honey.
  6. 6. Impact of Microgrants for Farmers and Key Learnings Project launch timing “We are typically planning our year in December/January. The grant application should be out at that time and the grant money available before the start of the season ie, February/ March.” “If the program started a little earlier, farmers would be able to purchase materials in the winter when we have a bit more time. “ By investing in a simple technology, caterpillar tunnels, Persephone Market Garden successfully grew eggplant and diversified farm produce.
  7. 7. Impact of Microgrants for Farmers and Key Learnings Success at different scales Cost-sharing vs. full project funding - “Initially, I thought the program would fund the machine in its totality. When the funding was halved this was disappointing. The program should be careful to indicate more concretely the level of possible funding.” Au Bon Hectare purchased scales and salad spinners for a gourmet edible flower bar. While other market farmers had less expensive salad greens, theirs always sold out first because of the quality and appearance. “It was a hit!,” the farmers remarked.
  8. 8. Impact of Microgrants for Farmers and Key Learnings Projects likely to be successful: Equipment for season extension One grower's sales of sweet potatoes, which they trialed in 2011 but were able to grow under row covers supported by a grant in 2012, were “more than double because we were able to come early (3 weeks) and sell everything by the end of the market season.” “The new products have given us the desired bridge into the year-round Farmers’ Market scene. The greens have complemented our late season harvest vegetables and given us the confidence that we really do have enough variety and quantity to be a part of the Winter Farmers’ Market possibilities.” Kind Organics invested in a greenhouse furnace to grow winter greens and sprouts. The Furnace added $5,000$10,000 to the farm’s yearly income, extending the growing season and providing a critical winter revenue.
  9. 9. Impact of Microgrants for Farmers and Key Learnings Projects likely to be successful: tools for enhancing existing production Eg, Vacuum sealer and bag stitcher Neufeld Family Farm’s new bag-stitcher seals bags of potatoes and stone ground wheat flour. The machine allows them to sell flour in large bulk bags to market customers and bakeries, and they no longer need to sell potatoes in more expensive wooden bushels.
  10. 10. Impact of Microgrants for Farmers and Key Learnings Consider grant amounts: Increasing amounts from $300-1000 to $500-1500 would still cover only a fraction of the total cost of most projects, but would allow bigger undertakings. Consider the timing for evaluating program results: product development, farm business growth, and real financial impacts can take longer than a few months Especially for developing value-added products Budget for adequate administrative support, and be realistic about follow-up expectations The grant allowed Green Gate Farms to vacuum package their individual cuts of meat, making it visible to customers and better suited to be sold in stores.
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  12. 12. Questions for Discussion What the areas of need in your region? How could a microgrant program respond to this need? Who are potential funders? Who could deliver the program?