Take Ag Action in Moorefield, West Virginia on 8/27 and Kearneyville, WV on 8/28

Think a co-op may be part of the solution for your farm or food business?

Now is the time to get involved and/or come to ask questions.

Date: Monday 8/27/2018

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Eastern WV Community & Technical College, 316 Eastern Drive, Moorefield, West Virginia 26836

Date: Tuesday 8/28/2018

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Research and Education Center, 67 Apple Harvest Drive, Kearneyville, WV.

For more information and to register contact:  tina.metzer@easternwv.edu or nbergdoll@wvda.us

From Farm to Cafeteria to Field

The Center for Cooperatives Guides National Farm to Cafeteria Tours

The 2018 National Farm to Cafeteria Conference brought together educators, dieticians, foodservice staff, farmers and local food advocates from across the country in Cincinnati, Ohio in late April. Attendees discussed how Farm to School initiatives enrich their communities, strengthen the food system and boost local economies. Conference sessions shared best practices to boost local food consumption in the cafeteria and provide agriculture, food, health and nutrition education to students.

The conference featured field trips to several Ohio food and farm destinations. The CFAES Center for Cooperatives guided tours “From Garden to Food Hub” and “The Science of Local Food” at the Ohio State University South Centers.

On the conference’s final morning, twenty conference attendees boarded the bus for a 2-hour scenic trip from the conference center in Cincinnati to OSU South Centers in Piketon. They participated in the award winning food-science program “The Story of the Strawberry.” The program is a partnership between OSU Extension Pike County, OSU Horticulture and OSU Food, Nutrition and Wellness.

Attendees learned about plasticulture strawberry production and OSU researchers’ efforts to extend the Ohio harvest season from a historical 3-week strawberry harvest to a 3-month harvest window. Attendees also gained disease prevention insights from current berry nutritional research. Hands-on activities included taste tests and strawberry DNA extraction.

Next, the group got on a hay wagon for a tour of South Center’s research plots. They visited the hops yard, grape vineyard and aquaculture ponds. Attendees learned about services provided to new businesses in South Center’s unique business incubator, the 27,000-square foot Endeavor Center. The Business Team shared how they help entrepreneurs, including agricultural producers and food manufacturers, start and grow businesses in southern Ohio.

CFAES Center for Cooperatives Program Manager Hannah Scott greeted twenty-five conference goers on a sunny afternoon outside of the Duke Energy Convention Center for a tour focused on local food aggregation and distribution. Attendees visited the facilities of Our Harvest Cooperative and Ohio Valley Food Connection located in The Incubator, a commercial kitchen and food aggregation incubator in northern Kentucky, to learn about the collaboration between the two southwest Ohio food hubs to move more local food to institutions. The field trip also took attendees to Fox Tail Farm in New Richmond, Ohio, a small produce farm marketing produce like carrots and greens through a hub. Participants learned about the farm’s production techniques and the advantages the farm experiences marketing through a hub.

The unique challenges of moving locally produced food from farms to restaurants, cafeterias, and retailers have been a focus of the Center for Cooperatives since 2014 through the Ohio & West Virginia Food Hub Network and technical assistance work with food hubs. According to a recently released study from Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and Wallace Center at Winrock International, approximately 31% of U.S. food hubs marketed products to k-12 schools in 2017. Despite challenges, food hubs can help producers access larger markets than they may be able to working on their own. In 2017, approximately 18% of food hubs in the U.S. were cooperatively owned.

Article originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of The Ohio State University South Centers Connections newsletter. The full newsletter is available at: https://southcenters.osu.edu/newsletter/connections-newsletter

Scaling-up to Sell to Schools

 

Farm fresh food benefits not only students but the farmers that grow it for students. Scaling-up to sell to schools presents challenges, but farmers have achieved success through cooperation, collaborative relationships with buyers and year-round purchasing programs.

Farmers benefit from Farm to School

Institutions are a dependable market that provides farmers with timely and reliable payments. Clarity of a cafeteria’s needs allows farmers to plan production and delivery in advance. Schools streamline procurement, delivery and invoicing processes so farmers can focus their energy on producing high-quality food to nourish students.

Selling to schools is good for the local economy. Schools purchased $790 million of local food in 2013-2014. 42,587 Schools across the United States participated in Farm to School activities according to the USDA Farm to School Census. ¹ Case studies of public schools in Minnesota and Georgia found $82 of every $100 spent stayed in the local economy. ²

Some schools incorporate agriculture and nutrition education into Farm to School programming. Farmers that are passionate about inspiring the next generation of healthy eaters may have an opportunity to partner with educators to teach youth about what it takes to get food from the farm to the cafeteria.

Challenges selling to schools

Schools purchase a large volume of product. Small operations often struggle to produce a volume sufficient for foodservice needs. Cooperative marketing is a solution. An agricultural cooperative can aggregate multiple farms products to achieve intuitional volumes. A co-op offers farmer-members other benefits such as group food safety certifications, shared distribution and reduced costs on supplies. The Preston Growers Cooperative formed in response to the West Virginia Farm to School initiative. Working together, farmers achieve institutional volumes, maintain quality and offer a wider selection of products to local schools.

Farmers receive lower prices from institutional sales than other direct marketing channels. School buyers have tight budget constraints when making food purchasing decisions. The average school lunch cost $2.90 to prepare, only $1.07 of the total cost is allocated to food. The remaining $1.83 goes to labor, preparation and indirect costs. ³ Marketing Michigan Products: A Step-by-Step Guide from Michigan Farm to School is a free online resource that helps farmers prepare bid documents, price their products and negotiate contract agreements.

The school cafeteria is vacant during much of peak fruit and vegetable season. Minimal processing, such as freezing fresh food for future use, can be a solution. Cafeteria staff may process the food in the school cafeteria or coordinate with a food hub or co-packer to process the food in an approved facility. The Ohio Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program provides a consistent market for farmers by purchasing food when school is not in session. Meals are served to youth enrolled in summer education programs at local YMCAs, libraries and other partner organizations.

Success

Farmers that have successfully sold to schools suggest developing working relationships with school dieticians, buyers and food service staff. Farmers should clarify vendor requirements, volume, packaging, delivery, insurance, payment terms and necessary food safety certifications prior to making the first delivery. Regular communication throughout the school year is vital to success.

For more information on Farm to School in Ohio visit http://farmtoschool.osu.edu/.

To learn about the Ohio State University Dining Service’s goal to purchase 40% local and sustainable Food by 2025 visit https://dining.osu.edu/sustainability/local-and-sustainable-food/.

References

  1. “Farm to School Census.” 2015. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service.
  2. Christensen, L., Jablonski, B., Stephens, L. & Joshi, A. “Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools.” Sept 2017. National Farm to School Network. Retrieved April 27, 2018 from http://www.farmtoschool.org/Resources/EconomicImpactReport.pdf.
  3. “School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study-II.” 2006. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service.

*Originally published in Farm and Dairy newspaper 5/4/2018

Casa Nueva: A New Flavor of Foodservice

Low salaries, high turnover and lack of employee engagement are prevalent in food service. Eight food entrepreneurs had a solution; they would create a restaurant that empowered employees through ownership. In 1985 they opened Casa Nueva, the first worker-owned cooperative restaurant in Ohio, in the heart of downtown Athens.

In 1987 Casa Nueva worked with the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) to develop and market a product line of salsas and other value-added goods. The restaurant added a cantina in 1993, and a second kitchen in 2003.

Worker ownership in practice

Casa Nueva carries out daily operations with the help of worker-owners and non-owners (associates). 1/3 of staff are worker-owners, 2/3 are associates. Associates have an opportunity to apply for ownership after working 1000 hours in the restaurant, serving on special committees and earning positive performance evaluations. The co-op board of directors vote to approve or disapprove the associate’s application for ownership. All new owners contribute equity. The cost is offset by a raise that goes into effect when an associate becomes a member of the cooperative. Other benefits of membership include: voting rights, paid time-off, insurance and scheduling preference.

For over 30 years Casa has provided worker-owners with meaningful work, sustainable jobs and opportunities for advancement. Fresh ingredients, Mexican-inspired flavors, culture, music and art delight locals and students of Ohio University, the city’s main economic driver.

Founder Leslie Schaller shares Casa Nueva’s Story

Contribute to Food Hub Knowledge, Participate in 2018 Food Hub Benchmarking Study

Did you know that the average gross revenue of a food hub in 2017 was $2.4 million? Or that the most common types of customers for food hubs are restaurants and direct consumers? Or that the average number of vendor selling to a food hub was 55 in 2013?

 

“Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey,” published in March 2018, details these and many more findings from a comprehensive review of the maturing food hub sector in the United States. The report reviews many aspects of a food hub business from finances to food safety, giving food hub stakeholders access to information that can help inform their decisions, based on a national survey of existing food hubs. You can learn more about the study’s results in a webinar hosted by the National Good Food Network at 3:30pm EST on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

“Counting Values: Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Study,” released in 2014 by the Wallace Center at Winrock International, Farm Credit East, and other partners, details financial and operational characteristics for food hubs in a way that can serve as performance indicators for other businesses in the sector.

Food hub stakeholders have an opportunity now to contribute to an update of research like this through the 2018 Food Hub Benchmarking Study. The study, according to the Wallace Center at Winrock International will collect financial and operational data from food hub businesses, standardizing and aggregating the data to develop sector insights and performance indicators. Hubs that participate in the study will receive and individualized benchmark report and technical assistance on using the report as a business tool. Learn more about how to participate in the study here.

According to the “Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey,” fresh produce and herbs are the most common products sold by food hubs in the U.S.

 

Appalachian Table Event

 

Meet us in the foothills of Appalachia for this local foods event!

  • Local food breakfast buffet
  • Appalachian grown proteins, produce, dairy, and value-added goods on display
  • Producer and distributor educational panels
  • Food business resources
  • Networking opportunities

Date: Friday, April 13, 2018

Time: 8 a.m. to noon

Location: OSU South Centers, Endeavor Center, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661

Cost: FREE (those attending must register)

Registration: Contact Charissa Gardner at 740.289.2071, ext.132 or gardner.1148@osu.edu

Deadline to Register is April 6th

http://go.osu.edu/appalachiantableapril2018

Appalachian Table 4.13.18 Final-schpfl

Join Us Friday 3/23 to get MarketReady!

Attention Farmers and Foodpreneurs:

MarketReady training is headed to SW Ohio! Learn how to evaluate and navigate various market channels, and establish an effective business strategy for your farm products.


Friday 3/23/18
8:30-3:30 p.m.
OSU Extension- Clermont County
1000 Locust Street., P.O. Box 670, Owensville, OH 45160
To register contact Pam Clark, clark.2652@osu.edu, 513.732.7070

Cultivating community and local food production in West Virginia: The 2018 Small Farm Conference

“Agriculture can and will be part of the solution to stabilize and grow our economy with the right plan,” stated Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture. West Virginians consume over $7 billion dollars of food each year, but produce only $800 million dollars of food. The commissioner believes growing and producing more food in the Mountain State will strengthen West Virginia’s food system, boost farmers’ profitability, and create new jobs in agriculture that will benefit individuals and local economies. ¹

Barriers to small farm profitability

The average farm in West Virginia is 175 acres. Farmers face several barriers to operate a successful small farm enterprise. Achieving profitability with limited production yield on less land is a major challenge. Farmers have fewer options to diversify small operations. They experience difficulty finding the right market mix and scaling production to serve larger markets. Additionally, lack of infrastructure and distribution are common barriers.

The West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions

The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference offers solutions to unlock the potential of West Virginia small farms to produce food profitably. The conference will take place February 21-24, 2018 at the Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia. The goal of the conference is to help farmers develop a successful small farming enterprise by providing reliable, tested knowledge about current trends, needed skills, and latest production and operation information. The conference also aims to strengthen West Virginia’s food system by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale and retail marketing, and consumption.

There will be a wide variety of educational workshops during the three-day event. Farmers will learn about livestock, fruit, vegetable and specialty crop production. In-depth discussions led by experts in farm management, marketing, finance and risk, will benefit farm enterprises of all types. Food producers will learn how to add value to their farm products, utilize agricultural cooperatives to gain market access. Special sessions will highlight West Virginia’s Farm-to-School initiative, Farmers’ Markets and agritourism opportunities in the Mountain State.

Know your farmer, know your food

The Winter Blues Farmers Market will take place on Thursday, February 22, 2018, from 4-8 p.m. at the Morgantown Event Center. The community event is family-friendly and open to the public. The market will showcase local food, goods and products. Enjoy the aroma of delicious food cooking while browsing the market. Area chefs will be on-hand to prepare pay-as-you-go dishes and entrees with locally grown food.

What: The 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference

When: February 21-24, 2018

Where: Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, West Virginia

Cost: Registration is $70 per day, or $190/3 days for adults. Students, active military and veterans receive a discounted rate. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, Friday dinner, and conference materials. A $10 convenience fee increase per person per day for walk-in registrations.

Link to register and learn more: https://extension.wvu.edu/conferences/small-farm-conference

Reference

  1. 2017 Annual West Virginia Agricultural Statistics Bulletin. No. 48. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, West Virginia Field Office. 2017. www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/West_Virginia/Publications/Annual_Statistical_Bulletin/2017/Bulletin2017-All.pdf. Date Accessed 5 Feb 2018.

 

Ohio Produce Network 2018

Learning the produce industry’s latest and greatest at the Ohio Produce Network conference in Sandusky, Ohio. Growers, marketers and their families are having a wild time at Kalahari Resort and Convention Center! The convention brings together Ag business owners, supply and service providers, Ohio State University Extension educators and industry experts.