Local Markets

Two Local Markets projects will be supported by the Small Farms Program in 2011-12.

1. North Country Grown Cooperative (NCGC) Software Development

The North Country Grown Cooperative (NCGC) is a small farmer cooperative with 43 growers that sold $102,000 of local product during the 2010 season to 27 local buyers such as colleges, schools, hospitals and restaurants.  A recent evaluation by the Cooperative Development Institute showed a need for a more efficient way to keep track of orders, invoices, and inventory before the co-op can expand further and become sustainable.  Kim Mills from SUNY Morrisville has been developing e-commerce software to help make local food more available.  This project would fund Kim Mills to modify that software, creating a new tool specifically for small farmer co-ops.  This new software would integrate the farmers’ crop offerings, customer ordering, and rapid payment to the farms with Quick Books to improve the efficiency of the operation and allow them to expand the number of growers, the volume they market and the number of institutions they can sell to.   The new software could then be used by other farmer cooperatives to improve their business.

Coordinators:
Betsy Hodge, CCE St. Lawrence County ()
Kathy Fuller, Secretary, NCGC ()

Work Group:
Sue Rau, Co-op Manager/Farmer ()
Lynda Bage, Farmer, Co-op member and treasurer ()
Brian Walker, Co-op Board member and restaurant owner/buyer()
Kathy Fuller, Farmer, Co-op member and secretary ()
Kim Mills, SUNY Morrisville (millsk@morrisville.edu) and students

2. Assessing local foods distribution systems as a means to increase market access for small, commercial farmers in New York State

With grant funding from the Cornell Small Farm Program, as well as additional funding from Professor Miguel Gomez in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, the Work Team will begin to identify and evaluate several local foods distribution systems including: Angello’s Distributing, Inc., Basis Holdings Inc. LLC, Evans Farmhouse Creamery, Finger Lakes Organic Growers Cooperative Inc., Regional Access, Inc., CNY Bounty LLC, Garden Gate Delivery, Red Jacket Orchards, Food Shed Buying Club, Eden Valley Growers Cooperative, Nelson Farms, Just Food, Lewis Waite, Finger Lakes Family Farms, Food Link, and Orbit.  The end result of the project will be a report containing: 1) listings and basic information of the local food distribution systems initiatives in NYS and their characteristics; 2) initial sales data received by farmers for participation in local foods distribution system, number of farmers participating in distribution systems, etc.; 3) recommendations of policies and mechanisms needed to support local foods distribution systems and increased market access for farmers in NYS; 4) recommendations for data structure, analytic capacity, and organizational infrastructure needed to collect and interpret trends in characteristics and effects of food distribution system; 5) preliminary identification of factors that make a particular distribution model successful or viable, compared to vulnerable or unsustainable.

Coordinators:
Monika Roth, CCE Tompkins ()
Becca Jablonski, CCE Madison ()

Work Group:
Miguel Gomez ()
Mildred Warner ()
Mark Constas ()
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman ()
Todd Schmit ()
Jeff Piestrak ()
Matt LeRoux ()
Marty Broccoli ()
Jim Ochterski ()
Paula Schafer ()
Jack Montague ()
David Grusenmeyer ()
Bernadette Logozar ()
Challey Comer ()
Phil Metzger ()
Chris Harmon ()
Martha Goodsell ()
Robert Hadad ()


Background: History of the 2007-2009 Local Markets Workteam

Read the 2009 Local Markets Report ENHANCING THE VIABILITY OF LOCAL MARKETS IN NY

Local Markets for New York Producers: From Research to Action

It all started with a survey……

In the Spring of 2007 the New York State Work Team on Local Foods- Local Markets conducted an extensive electronic questionnaire to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to local food production, processing, distributing, marketing, purchasing, and consumption. This questionnaire was not designed as or intended to be a scientific study; rather, it was, designed to solicit as many responses to pointed questions, from as many local food stakeholders as possible within a relatively short period of time.

The questions were sent to multiple e-lists serving current and potential local food stakeholders: eg. school food service, regional and local food groups, commodity groups, processors, food banks, farmers markets managers and vendors, etc. We asked list managers and members to be survey “starters” or “circulators” to reach as many potential participants as possible, and sent multiple reminders to encourage follow-through in completing the survey. The directions were simple. Participants were invited to answer all of the questions or just those in the sections they felt best represented their perspective on local foods. The questions were open ended and allowed for feedback in long or short narrative style. One hundred and five individuals completed and returned the survey. Through team member affiliation or return addresses, we were able to identify the participants as including 35 farmers, 45 consumers and 25 facilitators. To see the survey click here.

With responses in hand, the team set to work analyzing the narratives. Some answers involved a single thought. Other answers involved multiple thoughts. Each thought was categorized under a heading theme. Thus, one answer might have been included under eight or more heading themes. To read all the responses click here.

The responses were grouped under an appropriate subject heading and put back into the initial SWOT grid for each of the constituent groups- farmers, consumer and facilitators. To view the headings and how they were categorized click here.

Opportunities and challenges begin to emerge

We summarized the results of this data integration process in a one page Opportunities and Challenges document, focused on supply side (farmers/ producers/ processors) and demand side (buyers/ consumers) issues. Issues for facilitators/connectors were intentionally omitted, with the goal of addressing the issues related to the producer consumer connection not those relating to the organizations and agencies that support those connections. Later we would ask facilitators to evaluate their own work, using what they learned about the opportunities and challenges of the parties they were working with. To view the list of opportunities and challenges click here.

Attendees set priorities at the Local Markets Summit

Local food leaders were invited to a one day Local Foods Local Markets Summit in Hamilton, New York. Fifty individuals participated in a day long conference on July 17, 2008. The list of summit participants is available here.

Summit participants were asked to review the opportunities and challenges and to ask themselves how the data could help them to identify local food issues. Participants were challenged to identify issues by examining how various opportunities might solve a particular challenge or how a challenge might be overcome by leveraging opportunities and strengths. Participants were encouraged to frame their issues in a “how to” question. Work team member Martha Goodsell, led participants through a series of examples by analyzing the information in the opportunities and challenges handout. To see examples of these types of questions click here.

Summit participants then broke into facilitated groups representing supply side (farmers/ producers), demand side (consumers/ buyers) and facilitators to identify issues. To read the issues identified click here. After identifying the issues, participants were given seven dots to use however they wanted to identify those issues they considered most important to enhancing connections between NYS producers and consumers. Starting with the top five issues, facilitators then helped each group identify several strategies designed to address each issue, whether the strategy was of high, medium or low priority, and what groups (agencies and organizations) are best positioned to implement the strategy. Due to time constraints, not all groups managed to address the same number of issues. Nor did all groups prioritize the strategies or identify implementers. However, all groups identified several strategies that, together, could be integrated into a strategic plan to address the issues that hinder stronger connections between NYS producers and consumers. To read the strategies suggested click here.

Following the Summit, Summit Notes were circulated to all Summit participants, with a request that they review the materials, and let us know of any omissions, needed corrections, or additions. As our original plan called for an additional round of stakeholder input, the summit notes were categorized based on the strong themes which had emerged among the issues raised. This would allow an easier visual assessment of the contributions made to date. Strategies were also categorized in this manner. Additional input was then requested from constituents and stakeholders themselves. We provided the opportunity for the greater buy-local community – including: farmers, producers, processors, buyers, consumers, school food service personnel, nutritionists, food banks, market manager, and others – to comment, add their issues and strategies, and prioritize. Additional responses from the larger community were received. Their additions and rankings were integrated into previously recorded data. To read the complete set of prioritized issues and strategies click here.

Priorities are assigned to educators, researchers, policy makers, etc….

Stakeholders then requested that the strategies be broken down into who could do what. The most significant and pressing issues to local foods system success – as identified by numerous statewide stakeholders – and their suggestions for solving were then sorted by implementation group. In some cases the solutions identified can be undertaken by individual groups such as educators, researchers, policy makers or those working in community outreach; in other cases a collaborative effort is needed to resolve the challenges faced. To read the prioritized action list by stakeholder group click here.

Get involved

We encourage all those involved in local food systems to consider these state-wide recommendations so that the most effective efforts are employed to ensure local food system success. In order to keep the lines of communication open, Buy-Local stakeholders including but not limited to program facilitators, project coordinators, farmers, processors, distributors, food service directors, market managers, consumers, and others are invited to join the Buy Local NY list serve at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BuyLocalNY/

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